On 14 May 2010, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report
emphatically confirming what animal welfare advocates have been saying for
years: the USDA has NOT been doing its job enforcing
the minimum standards of care required for USDA- licensed commercial breeders
(aka "puppy millers") and dealers!
report may be a real eye-opener for those who think that "if a breeder is
USDA, he must be OK" -- however, in reality, it graphically shows how many
USDA policies and attitudes aid and abet in misery for thousands of dogs in US
report is 69 pages long and difficult to summarize in a few paragraphs, but, In
brief, the OIG identified the following major problems:
Enforcement Process, which relies heavily on education for serious or repeat
violators without an appropriate level of enforcement -- lots of carrots but
very small sticks -- does not work against habitual violators of the Animal
Welfare Act provisions.
The agency set small fines that
did not deter violators, in some cases "fudging" guidelines to lower
penalties for AWA violators, encouraging them to pay a fine rather than ask for
a hearing. Many repeat violators seem to see these small fines as part of the
cost of doing business rather than either punishment or deterrant.
Suffering animals who should
have been confiscated immediately were instead left in horrific conditions that
cost even more dogs their lives.
Many AC Inspectors did not cite
violations that they should have. Obvious violations such as animals with
massive tick infestations were completely overlooked as "not having an
adverse affect on the dog," numbers of animals suffering from the same
violation were not counted as individual violations, and repeat violations were
not tallied properly. As a result, some violators who should have been
re-inspected and/or fined were not.
When violations were cited, a
large percentage were not documented properly (detailed descriptions,
photographs, identification of specific dogs, etc). As a result, 7 of the 16
cases serious enough to go to hearing were weakened by insuffcient evidence.
Some large breeders dodged the
Animal Welfare Act Standards of Care entirely by selling animals over the
internet, due to a loophole in AWA.
of all of that, though Animal Care agrees to most of the OIG Recommendations to
crack down on violations, this is the fourth audit by the OIG since 1992 to
cite essentially the same findings! What guarantee is there that Animal Care
will follow through with the recommendations this time when they haven't in the
Please read the entire report
to understand the full extent and seriousness of the USDA's lack of oversight
of licensed facilities. We must warn you, though, that this report contains
some very graphic photos and examples of violations that may be upsetting to
please note that there are some very good, caring, concientious USDA Animal
Care inspectors quietly doing their jobs to the best of their abilities, and
they are probably just as frustrated with the situation as we are!
try to have a more detailed summary of the report and recommendations online
for you soon. We also hope to have some answers about what YOU can do to let
the USDA know they must strictly enforce existing laws to protect animals!
Animal Care Program Inspections of Problematic Dealers