Menendez, Wyden Introduce Legislation to Restore Transparency, Hold Puppy Mills, Animal Abusers Accountable

Menendez, Wyden Introduce Legislation to Restore Transparency, Hold Puppy Mills, Animal Abusers Accountable

Bars animal abusers from receiving valuable tax break

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today introduced legislation to restore public information on animal cruelty that was erased from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website under the Trump Administration.  The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), and introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) in the House of Representatives. 

“The USDA must continue to shine a light on any puppy mill, commercial breeder, zoo, aquarium, circus, or research lab that abuses and tortures their animals,” said Sen. Menendez. “The public shaming and disclosure of this information is essential to holding these abusers accountable, deterring others from mistreating animals and increasing consumer protections. This legislation will ensure the restoration of all the data USDA recently wiped from its website.”

“Transparency is key when it comes to giving animal lovers and consumers information about whether their pets or the products they buy are the result of heartbreaking beginnings,” Sen. Wyden said. “This bill gets the facts out there to identify and hold puppy mill operators accountable while making sure taxpayers aren’t paying to keep animal abusers in business.”

The Animal Welfare Accountability and Transparency Act would require APHIS to again make publicly available information about entities that violate the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) or the Horse Protection Act (HPA).  It would also prevent violators of these animal welfare laws from receiving certain business-related tax breaks for five years.

Since 2009, APHIS has made available to the public animal welfare inspection reports for animal research laboratories and other regulated entities. But on February 3, the part of the website that is dedicated to identifying animal cruelty violations was erased.



Sen. Menendez recently visited the Bergen County Animal Shelter in Teterboro, N.J. 


Earlier this month, Sen. Menendez led a letter with 17 other Senate Democrats to the USDA, including Sen. Wyden, calling on the Trump Administration to immediately restore animal cruelty information recently purged from the APHIS website. 

Seven states, including New Jersey, prohibit the purchase of animals from commercial breeders and so-called “puppy mills” cited for violations under the AWA and HPA, and rely on that information to enforce state laws.

The Animal Welfare Accountability and Transparency Act has been endorsed by the Humane Society, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Born Free.

“Advocates, consumers, and state governments rely on the ready availability of Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act inspection and enforcement reports to know if and when animals are being mistreated,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations.  “It is indefensible that USDA has taken steps to hide information that should remain easily accessible. The ASPCA applauds Senators Wyden and Menendez and Representative Blumenauer for their leadership in ensuring that those who profit from animals don’t escape public scrutiny.”