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April 30, 2010

The HSUS Applauds USDA Animal Welfare Act Enforcement Transparency

The Humane Society of the United States applauds Thursday's announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that it will resume issuing press releases on enforcement actions taken in response to violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The HSUS also welcomed the agency's statement that it would move more swiftly to take enforcement actions.

"By resuming the issuance of enforcement press releases, APHIS is putting regulated entities on notice that violations of the Animal Welfare Act will be made public," said Tracie Letterman, director of regulatory affairs for The HSUS. "We believe this greater transparency will have a deterrent effect that helps prevent abusive situations."

APHIS said it will issue monthly press releases beginning in June that include summaries of cases in which the agency is charging people with violations of the AWA as well as summary information about closed enforcement cases and penalties levied. The agency issued such releases previously, but stopped the practice in 2002. Similarly, in 2009, the agency resumed posting inspection reports on line. Thursday's announcement also is consistent with USDA's practice of issuing press releases about compliance actions under other statutes.

The Animal Welfare Act sets basic standards of care for most warm-blooded animals in commercial use. This includes research; public displays such as zoos, circuses, and other exhibits; sales of exotic animals; and commercial sales of companion animals (e.g., wholesale sales to pet shops, but not sales directly to individual consumers, under current USDA rules). It does not cover birds, rats, and mice bred for use in research; reptiles; or animals raised for food or fiber.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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