PETA Marks Victory in Third USDA FOIA Lawsuit

Agency Will Pay Attorneys' Fees, Hands Over Long-Sought Records of Puppy Mills, Laboratories, and Roadside Zoos Wiped From Its Website

For Immediate Release:
October 15, 2020

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Washington – On Thursday, PETA and co-plaintiff Delcianna Winders, an assistant clinical professor and animal law litigation clinic director at Lewis & Clark Law School, successfully settled their lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The first-of-its-kind suit was filed in 2018 after the USDA refused to comply with PETA’s and Winders’ Freedom of Information Act requests for records related to the USDA’s regulation of puppy mills, laboratories, roadside zoos, and other animal-exploiting enterprises, which the agency had scrubbed from its website in 2017 in what’s now known as the “USDA Blackout.” The settlement comes after the lawsuit prompted the USDA to provide the plaintiffs with the bulk of the requested records and after Congress ended the blackout in 2019. The agency also agreed to pay the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees.

“The USDA is rightfully picking up the tab for the lawsuit PETA shouldn’t have had to file to force the agency to hand over the public records that it illegally scrubbed from its website,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Caitlin Hawks. “PETA will continue to hold the USDA accountable for failing to protect animals abused in laboratories, roadside zoos, circuses, and puppy mills.”

In July of this year, PETA, Winders, and other co-plaintiffs successfully settled related lawsuits filed in 2017 and 2018 seeking to compel the USDA to restore the scrubbed records to its website. The USDA did so—and pledged to continue to provide the public with access to such records.

PETA—whose motto reads, “Animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way,” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—and its co-plaintiff were represented in their lawsuit by the public interest law firm Eubanks & Associates, PLLC. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind