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Removal of animal welfare data from USDA site sparks FOIA requests

Follow up to previous postings – DOJ defends USDA take-down of massive animal abuse database; Durbin Demands Trump Administration Restore Animal Cruelty; and Animal welfare information wiped from USDA website – see updated status on this matter: People who care about animal welfare are demanding information from USDA – “The Agriculture Department abruptly removed all animal welfare reports from its website in February, sparking public outcry, denouncements from Congress and a lawsuit. Six months later, we’re no closer to understanding exactly why the reports were taken down or when all might be restored. But recently published information shows one result of the records sweep: The agency has been inundated with Freedom of Information Act requests for the documents, which include inspection and enforcement records about the treatment of animals at more than 10,000 dog-breeding operations, research labs, roadside zoos and other facilities. The USDA has cited privacy concerns and litigation for its decision to remove the online records. They were regularly accessed by animal protection advocates, who used them to monitor government enforcement of animal welfare laws, as well as by pet vendors, journalists and researchers. The agency says it has since restored thousands of the inspection and annual reports to the website, but many more — including all inspections of dog breeders and show-horse events regulated by the Horse Protection Act — remain available only through a FOIA request, which can take months or years to be approved…”

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