Emmy-nominated actress Kate Mara (“House of Cards,” “Megan Leavey”) and two key Congressional lawmakers joined the Humane Society of the United States, Care2 and Humane Society Legislative Fund in delivering close to 200,000 petition signatures to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, urging the agency to restore online records of inspections and violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act. Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally, R-Ariz., and Democrat Congressman Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., called on USDA to reverse course and post thousands of documents removed from its searchable website.

In February, the USDA, without warning, purged from its website records concerning more than 9,000 licensed facilities that use animals, including puppy mills, roadside zoos, circuses, and animal research facilities. It also deleted from its site nearly all records relating to violations of the federal law to protect Tennessee walking horses and other breeds from an abusive practice known as soring. While certain documents relating to a selection of facilities have been reposted, most are still missing and of those reposted, specific information is difficult to find because documents are on various web pages and records are compiled in large PDF documents, rather than the previously searchable database.

Mara said: “Without these documents, organizations like the Humane Society of the United States will have a lot more trouble obtaining the information it needs in a timely fashion—to press for the enforcement of animal welfare standards. We as taxpayers pay for this agency to provide oversight over issues that Americans care deeply about. We are told to trust the agency to do their jobs and penalize those who abuse or violate the law. Eradicating these records indicates that the USDA has much to hide.”

Rep. McSally said: “The public has a right to know if regulated entities have abused animals or failed to meet basic welfare standards. Lack of access to Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act documents not only undermines those federal laws, but also interferes with state and local laws meant to protect animals and consumers. I have led over 100 members of the House in authoring a letter calling on the President to restore online access to these thousands of USDA reports. We should be increasing government transparency, not shielding those cited for violations of these key animal welfare laws. I am thankful to partner with the Humane Society of the United States, Kate Mara and Care2 today to demand the USDA release these records.”

Rep. Blumenauer said: “I can’t understand why USDA continues to protect animal abusers. It’s been almost four months since taxpayers had access to these records. The agency owes it to the American people to be transparent. We demand this information be restored now.”

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS, said: “The USDA’s purge of inspection reports and violation notice is an abuse of power, and the public just won’t go for this attempt to conceal the actions of the worst puppy mill operators and horse soring scofflaws.”

Randy Paynter, Care2 founder and CEO, said: “The American public deserves to know how animals are treated in licensed facilities, especially considering these inspections are the product of taxpayer dollars. Care2 is thrilled to work alongside Kate Mara and the Humane Society of the United States to pressure the USDA to uphold transparency.”

View the Care2 petition here: care2.com/stopUSDA.


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