Thursday, February 9, 2017

Mystifying Side Note In Trump World: Missing USDA Data

My dogs Tonks (foreground) and Jackson said they are angry
the USDA removed information on animal welfare from
the government website. We want it back. 
I was watching the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC the other night and she was mystified by something I was equally confused about.

My dogs Jackson and Tonks, who were also watching, said the issue Maddow was discussing is very important and I should put it in my blog.

I agree.

The Trump administration took down animal welfare data from the Internet that had provided the public with information on, say, whether the puppy they were thinking of acquiring comes from an abusive puppy mill.

The USDA makes animal breeders pass inspections. Seven states and New York City have laws that say stores and such can't sell puppies and other animals unless they come from a reputable breeder. The USDA insspections help guide this, and that's what the USDA database was for.

On her show Tuesday, Maddow said:

"Pet stores or law enforcemet in these states, if they want to check and see if a dog breeder is legally allowed to sell puppies to a pet store, they get on the USDA web site, look them up by license number and read their inspection reports, see if they have clean inspection reports. That's it"

You could do this at home, too. Get ahold of the breeder's licence number and check out the easily navigable USDA data.

Until the Trump administration came along. It's gone now. No reason given.

The removal of the data means the seven states with the animal protection laws can't enforce those regulations. And you can't find out whether the breeder you're thinking of getting Fido from tortures puppies.

Almost makes you think the Trump administration is in favor of torturing kittens or something.

Digging further, I found a Science article that contained a statement from th USDA saying the data removal was part of the agency's effort in "striving to balance the need for transparency with rules protecting individual privacy."

Wait, what?  Bad animal breeders want to torture puppies or whatever away from the annoying, prying eyes of law enforcement and the public? Hey, leave me alone here, can't you see I'm torturing puppies. Get outta here!

The statement from the agency said some horse breeders and others were suing the USDA to get the animal welfare information out of the public eye and the data was removed out of an abundance of caution while the litigation was going on.

But these lawsuits were ongoing well before Trump came into office. The Obama administration was presented with the option of removing the animal welfare data from the USDA website, but chose not to, as Maddow notes. 

Also, as Maddow notes, the Trump administration has been quietly taking down things from various websites, but, when there's an outcry, a lot of it goes back up.

There's already a public outcry brewing. The Dodo reports tbat people are inundating the USDA and other government officials with photos of their pets as a protest against the removal of the information from the web site.

Also, it looks like the Humane Society is going to sue the USDA over the missing public information.

The Science article noted that the decision by the USDA to take down the animal welfare data is not final, so maybe it will reappear.

I hope so. There's no reason why anybody who abuses animals, or even potentially abuses animals, should have that kind of act hidden, out of respect for "privacy."

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