ALLIANCE MEETS WITH USDA OFFICIALS
Confronts USDA Over Lax Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act
This past month, Alliance's Executive Director, Bob Baker, and the Alliance's federal lobbyist, Chris Heyde, met with high-ranking USDA officials in Washington D.C. to discuss the Alliance's concerns about USDA's malfeasance in covering up abuses at puppy mills. USDA Aiding and Abetting Cruel Puppy Mills

We emphasized with these officials that USDA was neglecting its Congressional mandate to enforce the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) especially as regards enforcing standards of care on commercial dog breeding facilities. Instead of defending its new policies that encourage inspectors to ignore violations of the AWA, USDA officials reluctantly admitted that they are kowtowing to a few rural Congressmen. USDA confirmed that the Agency was being pressured by Congressional representatives from puppy mill states, including Missouri. These federal legislators successfully sought USDA's cooperation in protecting the image of the industry. As a result of this pressure, USDA has engaged in a cover-up of conditions at puppy mills in order to present a false narrative to the public about the dog breeding industry.

As a result of this pressure, the USDA has been refusing to release copies of inspection reports in order to keep the public in the dark about the cruelty of puppy mills. Realizing that its denial of inspection reports, as requested under the Freedom of Information Act, is illegal and that the courts would eventually force them to release such reports, USDA concurrently instructed its inspectors to ignore numerous violations of the AWA and not to cite such violations on the inspection reports. Regrettably, items to be ignored include requirements for providing veterinary care to the breeding dogs. Undermining the Animal Welfare Act
USDA hiding abuses at Puppy Mills
At the conclusion of our meeting with USDA, the Alliance proceeded to Capitol Hill to lobby members of Congress to pressure USDA to change its ways and to induce the Agency to vigorously enforce the AWA. The Alliance is not only seeking an Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation into USDA's malfeasance, but is also seeking Oversight Hearings by Congress in an effort to expose USDA's failings and to mandate that USDA initiate action against substandard puppy mills. OIG has indicated to Congress that it has placed the Alliance's request for an investigative audit of USDA on its priority list for 2019.

We will keep you advised of our efforts going forward. Please be watchful for future Action Alerts on this matter as we await Committee assignments to determine whom best to reach out to on this issue.