Why do Climate Deniers Hate Puppies?
February 4, 2017
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday abruptly removed inspection reports and other information from its website about the treatment of animals at thousands of research laboratories, zoos, dog breeding operations and other facilities.
In a statement, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service cited court rulings and privacy laws for the decision, which it said was the result of a “comprehensive review” that took place over the past year. It said the removed documents, which also included records of enforcement actions against violators of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act, would now be accessible only via Freedom of Information Act Requests. Those can take years to be approved.
“We remain equally committed to being transparent and responsive to our stakeholders’ informational needs, and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals with whom we come in contact,” the statement said.
This, of course, will make it harder to bust puppy mills.
The records that had been available were frequently used by animal welfare advocates to monitor government regulation of animal treatment at circuses, scientific labs and zoos. Journalists have used the documents to expose violations at universities.
Members of the public could also use the department’s online database to search for information about dog breeders, as could pet stores. Seven states currently require pet stores to source puppies from breeders with clean USDA inspection reports, according to the Humane Society of the United States — a requirement that could now be impossible to meet.
Animal welfare organizations quickly condemned the removal of the information, which they called unexpected and said would allow animal abuse to go unchecked.
“The USDA action cloaks even the worst puppy mills in secrecy and allows abusers of Tennessee walking horses, zoo animals and lab animals to hide even the worst track records in animal welfare,” said John Goodwin, senior director of the Humane Society’s Stop Puppy Mills Campaign.
It kind of makes sense, when you realize that animals of all kinds will bear the harshest brunt of climate change.
Piles of dead turtle hatchlings are lining Queensland’s famous Mon Repos beach amid a heatwave which has pushed the sand’s temperature to a record 75 degrees Celsius.
While the majority of hatchlings break free from their nests at night when the sand is cooler, those escaping in the day face overheating.
“They can’t sweat, they can’t pant, so they’ve got no mechanism for cooling,” Department of Environment and Heritage Protection chief scientist Dr Col Limpus said.
“If they encounter very hot sand they just simply heat up.
“They slow down and that’s the end for them.
“You really only have probably an hour or so in those really hot sands and it’s terminal.”
The extreme heat is also conducted down to the turtle’s nest, pushing the temperature to about 34C, which is approaching the lethal level for incubation.
That is the hottest temperature recorded in a nest in more than a decade.
“We’ve got an increased mortality … that we haven’t been seeing in years,” Dr Limpus said.
The average hatchling survival rate is 85 per cent but due to the heat it is likely to be a lot lower this year.
The exact number of turtle deaths is not known at this stage, but hundreds have been seen dead on the beach.
The 1.6-kilometre Mon Repos beach is the most important breeding site for Loggerhead turtles in the South Pacific.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which also oversees animals in circuses, zoos and those sold commercially as pets, says that making the data publicly available posed a threat to individuals’ privacy.
USDA spokesperson Tanya Espinosa would not specify what personal information the agency wanted to protect, but said that it would be impossible to redact it from all the tens of thousands of inspection reports, complaints and enforcement action documents that used to be public.
The decision is a result of the USDA’s “commitment to being transparent, remaining responsive to our stakeholders’ informational needs, and maintaining the privacy rights of individuals”, according to a statement on the agency’s website. The records will still be available in redacted form through freedom-of-information requests. ”If the same records are frequently requested via the Freedom of Information Act process, APHIS may post the appropriately redacted versions to its website,” the statement concludes.
But some critics met the privacy argument with scepticism. The USDA routinely redacted the names of individuals from the public reports anyway, saysJustin Goodman, director of the non-profit White Coat Waste Project in Washington DC, which opposes animal research. “Claiming ‘privacy’ is a smokescreen to unjustifiably evade critical transparency about government operations.”