USDA Faces Challenge Over Secret Records of Animal Suffering

PETA-Led Coalition Demands That Agency Release Full Annual Reports From Laboratories That Subject Animals to Unmitigated Pain

For Immediate Release:
July 16, 2018

Megan Wiltsie 202-483-7382

Washington – This morning, a PETA-led coalition sent a request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) demanding that the agency disclose the full annual reports submitted by laboratories—including their justifications for denying animals relief from pain and distress.

After the coalition filed a lawsuit challenging the USDA’s removal of thousands of federal Animal Welfare Act–related records from its website, the agency partially disclosed certain records from 2015 through 2017—but these are missing the legally required and critically important explanation pages.

“The USDA is concealing the reasons why laboratories subjected tens of thousands of animals to unmitigated pain and distress—from infecting them with painful and deadly viruses to killing them horribly in poisoning toxicity tests, to name just a couple of examples,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “This cover-up is preventing the public from monitoring whether the USDA is doing its duty to ensure animals’ well-being, and PETA is demanding the full and immediate release of these reports.”

Facilities whose explanation pages are missing from the USDA’s website include the University of Massachusetts Medical School, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Merck and its subsidiaries, and Charles River Laboratories, Inc., among many others. From 2015 to 2017, these four organizations alone denied pain relief to nearly a dozen dogs, hundreds of primates and rabbits, and thousands of guinea pigs and hamsters.

The members of the coalition behind this request are PETA, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Rescue + Freedom Project (formerly the Beagle Freedom Project), and Winders, in her capacity as a legal scholar.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—has been campaigning against the USDA’s lack of transparency by publishing many of the full documents scrubbed on the USDA’s website, filing four lawsuits in total against the agency over the blackout, and more.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“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