Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation

                 

Protect. Advocate. Legislate.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 15, 2019

Media Contact
Bob Baker, Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation
Director@maal.org
314-707-6347

Brittany Robbins, OnMessage
Brittany@beonmessage.com
314-712-8646

Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation Files Lawsuit Against USDA for Failure to Cite Puppy Mills for Animal Welfare Act Violations


USDA recasts violations as “teachable moments” and allows mills to “self-report” without citation.


St. Louis, Mo [July 15, 2019] – Today, the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation (the Alliance) announced it has filed a federal lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in response to its refusal to enforce the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

“Instead of addressing animal abuse in the industry and enforcing measures to ensure the health and welfare of dogs in commercial breeding operations, the USDA is doing the opposite,” said Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation Executive Director Bob Baker. “Since 2014, the USDA has allowed puppy mills to avoid certain AWA citations by instead calling them ‘teachable moments.’  More recently, USDA adopted the Self-Reporting rule, allowing puppy mills that admit to certain AWA violations before an inspection to also avoid citation.  These rules allow problematic dog breeders to violate the AWA without recourse, and to avoid the reach of state and local anti-puppy-mill laws.”

The Alliance, along with laboratory watchdog Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), is initiating legal action against the USDA in an effort to eliminate the Teachable Moment rule and Self-Reporting rule, which they claim are procedurally defective. “While these rules are problematic for animals,” explains Vanessa Shakib, Co-Director of Advancing Law for Animals, “they were also improperly issued without the opportunity for public notice and comment, in violation of federal law.” 

The Animal Welfare Act is the only federal law in the United States that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. It sets minimum standards of care for animals confined in commercial dog breeding operations more commonly known as puppy mills, as well as dogs bred for research purposes. 

The complaint filed in the District of Columbia states the following:
The USDA adopted the Teachable Moments Rule and Self-Reporting Rule despite criticism and reprimand from the USDA Office of Inspector General;
The USDA adopted the Teachable Moments Rule and Self-Reporting Rule without public notice;
The USDA adopted the Teachable Moments Rule and Self-Reporting Rule without allowing or considering public comment;
The USDA’s Teachable Moments Rule and Self-Reporting Rule allow problematic breeders and puppy mills to circumvent the Animal Welfare Act; 
The USDA’s Teachable Moments Rule and Self-Reporting Rule allow dog breeders in violation of the Animal Welfare Act to avoid the consequences of animal cruelty and neglect; and 
The USDA undermines the Animal Welfare Act through adoption of the Teachable Moments Rule and Self-Reporting Rule. 

The petition is available for download here. The Alliance and SAEN are represented by Advancing Law for Animals and Barrella Law.  For more information, visit advancinglawsforanimals.org or maal.org

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About the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation
The Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation (the Alliance) is a non-profit organization lobbying full time to bring positive change for animals through the legislative process. Our efforts are combined with the actions of concerned individuals, other groups, organizations and agencies interested in advancing the welfare of Missouri's animals. Its mission is to advocate for the welfare of animals and to protect companion animals, farm animals, and wildlife from abuse, neglect and inhumane exploitation. The Alliance accomplishes this by enacting animal welfare laws and by working towards the effective enforcement of all existing animal protection laws and regulations.

About Advancing Laws for Animals 

Advancing Law for Animals is a non-profit law firm for animals, with an emphasis on farmed animals and animals in laboratories.