Animals housed in filthy and unsanitary living conditions without adequate veterinary care and lack of shelter and nutritious food are not necessarily in “noticeable pain” or in “noticeable distress.” Such inadequate care, however, will ultimately lead to distress but as long as the animals are not “currently” in pain when the USDA inspector is present, such lack of care is only considered a “teachable moment.” Even when there is a lack of shelter in the middle of winter as long as the animals are not shivering in the cold while the inspector is present, such violation is to be considered a “teachable moment” and not documented on the inspection report - even if the forecast is for bitter freezing temperatures for later that night.
USDA's message to Congress as well as to animal advocates is if you are going to force us to make inspection reports of puppy mills available to the public then we are going to classify violations as "teachable moments" and not document the violations on the inspection reports. USDA is determined to keep the public in the dark about conditions at puppy mills.
It is for this reason that the Alliance has filed a lawsuit against USDA over the Agency’s illegal adoption of the “teachable moments” rule.
This rule is not only inhumane to the animals but it was adopted and implemented without seeking public comments and without complying with the federal rule-making process. In addition, the Alliance has a federal lobbyist working to educate Congress on USDA’s malfeasance in an effort to persuade Congress to take further action against USDA.
Just last week the Missouri Department of Agriculture gained settlement judgments towards closing down two inhumane dog breeders –
breeders that USDA has given clean inspection reports to for the past three years.
We will keep you advised of the outcome of our lawsuit and our lobbying efforts in D.C. In the meantime, if you wish to vent your frustrations,
feel free to call or email Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue
and let him know that you are vehemently opposed to “teachable moments” and USDA’s lax enforcement efforts. Please take the opportunity to give Secretary Perdue a “teachable moment” about the necessity of enforcing the federal Animal Welfare Act, a law that Congress mandated USDA to enforce.