This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General (USDA OIG)—the agency’s internal watchdog—announced its Annual Plan for 2019. Included in the plan is a long overdue investigation into USDA’s lack of oversight of commercial dog breeders.
The OIG released a scathing report in 2010 detailing the failures of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to properly enforce Animal Welfare Act (AWA) standards for commercial breeders. In the eight years since, APHIS enforcement and accountability of the AWA has only worsened. According to the agency’s own reports, enforcement actions this year plummeted to a new low. Coupled with its disastrous decision to purge its database of meaningful information, the USDA has been keeping consumers, advocates and the general public in the dark about what’s really going on in our nation’s puppy mills.
Congress took notice of USDA’s enforcement failings last year. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) issued a joint, bipartisan letter calling on the OIG to initiate a new investigation.
The ASPCA has long advocated for an updated audit to understand the impact of USDA’s actions, or lack thereof, on the welfare of the animals it is charged with protecting. We commend Reps. Pocan and Fitzpatrick for standing up for animals and calling for this audit, and we hope the OIG conducts a swift and thorough investigation that will lead to lasting change for the welfare of dogs in puppy mills across the country.
You can help demand more transparency by signing this petition urging the USDA to restore breeder records to its public website.