To protect taxpayers’ right to information after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scrubbed its website of all records related to puppy mills, roadside zoos, traveling animal shows, and other enterprises that use and exploit animals, PETA is releasing every USDA inspection report of captive-animal exhibitors in its archives—nearly 21,000 records, the oldest of which dates back to 1984.
“It’s critical for animal advocates, law-enforcement officials, and members of the public to know how animal exhibitors have violated the law and whether dangerous wild animals are located nearby,” said PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Brittany Peet. “PETA will use every opportunity to push the USDA to put all these widely used documents back on its website, including all new records as they’re created.”
Over the years, PETA has repeatedly used USDA records to expose animal-welfare violations and help abused animals, including revealing the use of a paralytic drug on animals—who remained fully sensitive to pain during procedures—at Ohio and North Carolina roadside zoos owned by Henry Hampton, the death of Nina the elephant at Carson & Barnes Circus, and the plight of Joe, a solitary chimpanzee at Alabama’s Mobile Zoo, who, after a PETA campaign and lawsuit, was moved to an accredited sanctuary, where he’s now thriving as part of a large social group of chimpanzees.
And PETA, together with a coalition of leading animal-protection groups and others, is continuing to pursue our lawsuit to force the USDA to provide the plaintiffs with the deleted records. The lawsuit contends that the sudden February 3 removal of these documents was illegal because, among other grounds, the Freedom of Information Act requires government agencies to post frequently requested records on their websites. The litigation also seeks to ensure that these critically important animal-welfare documents will continue to be made available to the public as they’re created.
In the meantime, PETA invites every taxpayer to access the records made available on our site.