The United States Department of Agriculture erased data from its website regarding puppy mill inspections and enforcement records from their records and is now being sued.
The Humane Society composes annual reports regarding the welfare of animals at puppy mills, but was unable to do so in light of the missing data found within USDA records on the website.
“As of April 20, 2017, the USDA had restored some animal welfare records on research facilities and other types of dealers, but almost no records on pet breeding operations were restored,” the Humane Society wrote on its website.
According to the Hill, as of Feb. 3 the USDA removed all animal welfare reports and documents from its website entirely. The USDA responded, claiming it removed the records because of litigation in an “abundance of caution” to “protect individual privacy.”
The lawsuit was brought by two men cited for cruelty toward horses who violated rules set by the Obama administration for Tennessee Walking Horses. Their citations were posted on to the website, and resulted in the disqualification of the horses registered in competitions. The suit resulted in the prompt removal of the documents from the website.
Since then, according to Mother Jones, 100 representatives have requested the reinstatement of the reports, followed by threats of possible legislation that would force the USDA to re-publish all of the documents that were previously removed.