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Government Hides Information About Inhumane ‘Puppy Mills’

Agriculture Department Closes Access to Its List of Abusive Breeders

IN BRIEF: A surprise move by the Department of Agriculture will make it virtually impossible for citizens to learn about the worst pet breeders operating in the country.

Every year the Humane Society of the United States puts together a list of the worst dog breeders in the United States, the Horrible Hundred.

Places like Jinson Kennel in Stella, Missouri with “sick and dying puppies found year after year” which had its federal license revoked last year.

The Trump administration has removed the online reports that the Humane Society uses to push for better care for animals. Now animal rights advocates and others have to file written requests for the information.

Italian greyhounds in cages at an unlicensed breeding mill near Corinth, Miss., raided on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. Chuck Cook/AP Images for the Humane Society of the United States (used with permission)

The Humane Society says “it will be nearly impossible” for consumers and law enforcement agencies to know which breeders had violations without the online records. The nonprofit is telling people to contact the USDA directly to make complaints since it doesn’t have access to current records.

“We use those documents every day,” said Kathleen Summers who works with the puppy mill campaign at the Humane Society of the United States. The trade in animals bred in puppy mills is often associated with pets sold in retail stores.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the records were removed as “the agency is taking additional measures to protect individual privacy.” The agency said it is involved in litigation “concerning, among other issues, information posted on the agency’s website.”

Brian Klippenstein, dubbed by Mother Jones “an anti-animal-welfare zealot,” is heading up the transition team at the USDA. Klippenstein, a former staffer for Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, had been the executive director of Protect the Harvest.

That nonprofit has criticized the Humane Society of the United States as “America’s wealthiest radical animal rights group.” Protect the Harvest is funded by oil executive Forrest Lucas

Stifling efforts to protect abused animals isn’t the only area where the Trump administration has clamped down on public information or making it more difficult to get.

Summers, the Humane Society official, said the nonprofit still plans to put out its annual Horrible Hundred list this year, but it won’t have up-to-date information. The Humane Society is also pressuring the USDA to put animal welfare records back online. 

“The action they’ve taken only serves to hide animal abusers,” Summers said.

ACTION BOX / What you can do about it 
To ask why records on abused animals have been removed,  call Michael Gregoire, the acting administrator of the USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, at 
202-799-7017 or write the agency at 4700 River Rd., Riverdale, Md. 20737.
February 10, 2017