In December, the USDA announced it would consider using the results of private inspections when determining the frequency of federal inspections needed to ensure compliance with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). This decision would affect USDA-regulated facilities, including thousands of puppy mills, wildlife exhibitors and research labs. In other words, the agency may hand off power to the regulated community to decide which facilities warrant USDA oversight, a move that would essentially lead to industry self-policing. This would be devastating to the welfare of animals kept in these facilities, where AWA enforcement is already subpar.
Incredibly, USDA is proposing this despite having first-hand experience with this failed experiment. The agency already uses private third parties to inspect horses for soring, a cruel training practice that has been illegal for decades, but persists in large part due to federal outsourcing of inspections.
Don't let this happen again. Please write to USDA and express your opposition to the use of private third-party inspections to enforce animal welfare laws.