Citing privacy and other laws, animal welfare inspection reports, enforcement records and other information about the treatment of animals have been removed from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website.
Used by advocacy groups and others for information on animal welfare violations by commercial horse and dog breeders, as well as at animal testing labs. It also detailed whether violations had been corrected.
“APHIS, during the past year, has conducted a comprehensive review of the information it posts on its website for the general public to view,” according to a message on APHIS’ website. “As a result of the comprehensive review, APHIS has implemented actions to remove certain personal information from documents it posts on APHIS’ website involving the Horse Protection Act and the Animal Welfare Act.”
Inspection reports, regulatory correspondence, research facility annual reports and enforcement records that have not been adjudicated no longer will appear on the website. Those who are licensed by horse industry organizations to inspect horses for compliance with the Horse Protection Act will have their information reviewed and redacted as necessary. The information will be available upon submission of a Freedom of Information Act request.
“Courts are continuously issuing decisions that provide agencies with guidance on interpreting and applying laws applicable to the release of information to the public by the federal government, including the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act,” according to a statement from APHIS. “In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice maintains comprehensive guidance involving the Privacy Act, Freedom of Information Act, and other laws, and updates such guidance based on legal developments.”