January 26, 2022

USDA Removes Animal Welfare Reports From Its Website

UPDATE February 16 Some Deleted Animal Welfare Materials Return to USDA Website

Here’s the full text of a statement posted on the USDA Web Site:

Today, APHIS is posting the first batch of annual reports of research institutions and inspection reports for certain Federal research facilities that the Agency regulates under the Animal Welfare Act.  The reports posted are part of a comprehensive review of the documents the Agency removed from its website in early February and are in the same redacted form as before.

To conduct the review, the entire agency search tool database was taken off line. As announced on Feb. 7, 2017, the agency will continue to review records and determine which information is appropriate for reposting.

APHIS is committed to ensuring the welfare of animals and continues to carry out the critical day-to-day work of ensuring the humane treatment of vulnerable animals through unannounced inspections, pre-compliance visits, horse protection inspections, and other activities.

The reposted information can be found on our website, here.

In addition, some enforcement records (such as initial decision and orders, default decisions, and consent decisions) will continue to be available on the USDA’s Office of Administrative Law Judge’s website.

What’s Not Available on the USDA Website?

via an AP Report:

The records posted Friday do not include inspection reports on other animal facilities such as horse and dog breeding centers.

See Also: Statement From Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)


Since our February 8th update (below) Russ Kick’s The Memory Whole 2 continues to add archive APHIS reports (all types) to their online collection.

UPDATE February 8 Several Thousand Deleted Animal Welfare Reports from USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Database Now Available via The Memory Whole 2

From the AP:

The Agriculture Department has removed animal welfare inspection reports, enforcement records and other information about the treatment of animals from its website, citing privacy and other laws.

Tanya Espinosa, a spokeswoman for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the information was removed from the site around 11 a.m. Friday. She would not say if the removal was temporary or permanent in the new Trump administration.


In place of the online database is a new message from the department saying it is “implementing actions to remove documents” related to the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act that contain personal information.

Read the Complete Article

See Also: Updates to APHIS’ Website Involving Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act Compliance Information (via USDA.gov)

APHIS, during the past year, has conducted a comprehensive review of the information it posts on its website for the general public to view.  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.  Going forward, APHIS will remove from its website inspection reports, regulatory correspondence, research facility annual reports, and enforcement records that have not received final adjudication.  APHIS will also review and redact, as necessary, the lists of licensees and registrants under the AWA, as well as lists of designated qualified persons (DQPs) licensed by USDA-certified horse industry organizations.

Those seeking information from APHIS regarding inspection reports, regulatory correspondence, and enforcement records should submit Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for that information.  Records will be released when authorized and in a manner consistent with the FOIA and Privacy Act.  If the same records are frequently requested via the FOIA process, in most instances APHIS may post the appropriately redacted versions to its website.  In addition, some enforcement records (such as initial decision and orders, default decisions, and consent decisions) will continue to be available on the USDA’s Office of Administrative Law Judge’s website (https://www.oaljdecisions.dm.usda.gov/)

Read the Complete Statement

See Also: FAQ

See Also:  USDA Blacks Out Animal Welfare Information

See Also: USDA Abruptly Purges Animal Welfare Information From it’s Website (via WaPo)

See Also:  U.S. Government Takes Animal-Welfare Data Offline (via Nature)

See Also: Statement from International Fund for Animal Welfare (Feb. 6, 2017)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.