Animal Rights Groups Sue Over Unprecedented USDA Website Blackout

Leading animal rights groups sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Monday over the removal of animal welfare records from its website early this month. 

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by PETA, Beagle Freedom Project, Born Free USA, and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, along with public health advocacy group the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Harvard animal law and policy fellow Delcianna Winders, demands the reinstatement of the records, which included thousands of inspection reports, research facility reports, and violations at zoos, research laboratories, and commercial breeders.

“The government should not be in the business of hiding animal abusers and lawbreakers from public scrutiny,” Winders said in a statement. 

The USDA took down the records on February 3, citing privacy concerns. The agency said those seeking the information would henceforth be required to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The Humane Society of the United States said at the time: “This action benefits no one, except facilities who have harmed animals and don’t want anyone to know.”

As The Dodo noted: