Due to extensive lobbying on the part of the Alliance, Congress recently ordered USDA to post on its website all inspection reports of puppy mills. USDA had been refusing to allow the public to view inspection reports of commercial dog breeders for the past three years in an effort to protect the image of the industry.

In response to these instructions by Congress, USDA has now posted all inspection reports on its website.  Find Inspection Reports

USDA had little choice in complying with Congress’s instructions as Congress inserted such orders to post inspection reports into USDA’s budget for 2020.  USDA had to comply or jeopardize its funding for the year. 

Shockingly, USDA is now retaliating against Congress for ordering the Agency to post inspection reports of puppy mills.  With a vengeance, USDA announced this month that it is expanding the definition of “teachable moments.” In the past, only minor items having no adverse effect whatsoever on the animal were to be considered as “teachable moments” and not documented on the inspection report as violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.  

USDA is now redefining “teachable moments” as those violations that are currently “ not causing noticeable pain or distress to an animal. ”  This is a substantial difference. Something could be adversely affecting the health or well-being of the animal yet the animal would not necessarily be in noticeable pain or distress at the time of the inspection but could very well be in pain or distress in the near future. 
USDA's new mantra, "If she is not in noticeable pain - ignore her"
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.  
Email Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue or call 202-720-3631