Name: Demand Restoration of Public Records to APHIS Website
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service (APHIS) failed to release its 2018 Animal Usage Report
in October, as expected. Instead, it has not only withheld the new report, it
has also removed all past reports that had previously been available on its
website, even though public access to this information is mandated by the
Animal Welfare Act.
When NAVS reached out to APHIS officials about the latest missing
data, APHIS confirmed that the reports are missing from the website, stating
only that the reports—some of which are a decade old—are being “audited.” They would
not tell us when the data would be restored.
This is not the first time that APHIS has unexpectedly
removed animal research information from its website. In 2017, the USDA faced an
extensive backlash for removing key information pertaining to the use of animals
in research from its website, including inspection reports, regulatory correspondence,
enforcement records and its Animal Care Information System Search tool. At that
time, APHIS also removed its Research Facility Annual Summary Reports, but
after pressure from NAVS and other animal advocates, the agency restored those
records. Since then, additional data has been restored, though the search tool no
longer provides many of the records—or access—that it previously did.
These animal use reports have been part of the public record
for years and removing them indefinitely from the APHIS website under the
specious guise of an “audit” would appear to serve no purpose other than to hide
this information from the public.
Transparency surrounding animal use directly impacts our animal
welfare efforts, as understanding trends in animal use can help us better gauge
whether efforts to refine, reduce and replace the use of animals in research,
safety testing and education are effective.
Please help NAVS regain access to this important data by demanding
that APHIS fulfill its obligation to make animal research numbers available to
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Please restore animal research records to the public
Dear [Decision Maker],
Each year, APHIS publishes its annual Research Facility Annual Summary Reports Animal Usage by Fiscal Year, typically no later than mid-October. It is now almost the end of 2019 and the 2018 numbers are still not yet available. Instead, reports from earlier years have disappeared from the APHIS website and links that should lead to them instead now misdirect users to pages containing reporting requirements for licensees. The Animal Welfare Act requires APHIS to make these numbers available to the public and the agency's removal of these past reports is extremely troubling. I have learned that the delay in publishing the 2018 numbers is due to an "audit." And while this may excuse a delay in the posting of new reports, it does not justify the removal of numbers that have been posted for years with no replacements.The lack of transparency by APHIS is extremely troubling. APHIS has a Congressional mandate to publish these reports. Instead, you are choosing to keep the public in the dark. Refusal to make this information available is a violation of both the law and the will of the American people, and an obstacle such as this is an unacceptable usurping of our right to access this public information.I strongly urge you to immediately restore these records to their rightful place on the APHIS website.
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]