Target: Kevin Shea, Administrator of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services
Goal: Demand that APHIS effectively enforce the Animal Welfare Act when inspecting research facilities
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) routinely inspects research facilities for compliance with animal welfare standards. An audit performed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released in December 2014 revealed numerous cases of oversight and wasted resources in research labs across the country. Demand that APHIS enforce the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to stem animal abuse in research facilities.
Research labs’ negligence does not result from underfunding. There was an estimated $115,000 wasted on inspections of hundreds of research facilities that haven’t housed animals for at least two, sometimes 13 years, at the expense of inspecting problematic facilities including breeders, dealers, and exhibitors. Despite having a 2,000-case agency-wide backlog, the APHIS’s Animal Care unit failed to close at least 59 cases involving grave or repeat welfare violations. Additionally, the penalties issued were reduced by an average of 86 percent from the AWA’s authorized maximum penalty per violation.
APHIS also has a unit called Investigative and Enforcement Services (IES) that has fined violators, on average, just 14 percent of the maximum, and closed numerous cases without investigations. What is more concerning is that this unit is tasked with probing the most serious violations of the AWA.
Until we can prohibit the use of animals in scientific research facilities, we should demand that the investigative agencies who enforce humane animal treatment actually do their jobs. Sign below to demand that APHIS improve its performance.
Dear Mr. Shea,
I understand that APHIS is constrained by rigid government regulations. However, concerned individuals have pointed out that this is the third audit wherein IES has been found to reduce fines without merit and close cases without investigating them.
I think its fair to assume improvements can be made in how investigations are prioritized. I also fail to see the reasoning for fining violators of the Animal Welfare Act far below the accepted amounts.
While animal testing in research facilities is something many people would like to see phased out, I only want to plead for the enforcement of animal welfare protection and a more prudent use of resources on the part of the Animal Care unit.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Slim Virgin via Creative Commons