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.”