Washington Post: USDA reposts animal welfare records it purged from its website in 2017

Washington Post: USDA reposts animal welfare records it purged from its website in 2017. “Tuesday’s move made available unredacted reports for nearly 10,000 zoos, circuses, breeders, research labs and Tennessee walking horse shows that were publicly available on Jan. 30, 2017 — days before they were purged — as well as those generated since, the department said. The reports, based on unannounced inspections, can be used by the agency to build cases against facilities that violate animal welfare regulations, and animal protection groups had long used them to call attention to operations they said treated animals inhumanely.”

Exposing Animal Abusers: Update on the Animal Welfare Blackout (Animal Legal Defense Fund)

Animal Legal Defense Fund: Exposing Animal Abusers: Update on the Animal Welfare Blackout. “In early 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) purged tens of thousands of important documents related to animal welfare from the agency’s website…. On February 22, 2017 the Animal Legal Defense Fund, leading a coalition of organizations including Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, Companion Animal Protection Society, and Animal Folks, sued the USDA.”

The Naked Scientists: Farm animals are talking and we are listening

The Naked Scientists: Farm animals are talking and we are listening. “Old McDonald should be listening to what his overcrowded, over-medicated, and overlooked animals say… Meanwhile, a team from Queen Mary University in London and the University of Roehampton are, thanks to a deep learning AI that can tune in to what farm animals are saying. It can tell whether cows and pigs are happy and well-fed, or sick and distressed – all from their moos and oinks.”

VTDigger: New website makes it easy to find humanely produced products in Vermont (PRESS RELEASE)

VTDigger: New website makes it easy to find humanely produced products in Vermont (PRESS RELEASE). “Health Hero Farm announced today that a group of Vermont farmers are collaborating on a project to help consumers find farms, restaurants, stores, and CSAs that offer products made with higher standards of livestock care across the state. “

Phys .org: New algorithm allows for faster, animal-free chemical toxicity testing

Phys .org: New algorithm allows for faster, animal-free chemical toxicity testing. “The use of animals to test the toxicity of chemicals may one day become outdated thanks to a low-cost, high-speed algorithm developed by researchers at Rutgers and other universities.”

Phys .org: As shutdown drags on, scientists scramble to keep insects, plants and microbes alive

Phys .org: As shutdown drags on, scientists scramble to keep insects, plants and microbes alive. “Three days a week, Don Weber shows up to work at the U.S. Department of Agriculture campus in Beltsville, Md. The parking lot is empty and the hallways are dark. Like other federal facilities across the country, the lab is closed because of the partial government shutdown. ‘It’s like a ghost town,’ said Weber, an entomologist. But he has to perform an important task: feeding the hundreds of insects he raises in his lab, which keep hatching, mating and dying, oblivious to the political showdown in Washington, D.C.”

BBC: Facebook animal trade exposed in Thailand

BBC: Facebook animal trade exposed in Thailand. “More than 1,500 listings of live animals for sale have been found on Facebook in Thailand by a wildlife trafficking watchdog. Traffic, which monitors such activity, said many of the species, despite having international protection, were not native to the country, and so trading them was unregulated.”

Mental Floss: Animal Welfare Groups Are Building a Database of Every Cat in Washington, D.C.

Mental Floss: Animal Welfare Groups Are Building a Database of Every Cat in Washington, D.C.. “There are a lot of cats in Washington, D.C. They live in parks, backyards, side streets, and people’s homes. Exactly how many there are is the question a new conservation project wants to answer. DC Cat Count, a collaboration between Humane Rescue Alliance, the Humane Society, PetSmart Charities, and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, aims to tally every cat in the city—even house pets, The New York Times reports.”

PR Newswire: ASPCA Files Federal Lawsuit Against USDA for Suppressing Critical Animal Welfare Records (PRESS RELEASE)

PR Newswire: ASPCA Files Federal Lawsuit Against USDA for Suppressing Critical Animal Welfare Records (PRESS RELEASE). “The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), with the assistance of Cooley LLP, today filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for refusing to release critical animal welfare records requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In February 2017, the USDA abruptly removed thousands of documents related to the inspection of facilities licensed under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), including zoos and commercial dog breeders. These inspection and enforcement records had been available to the public in a searchable online database for years, and their removal made it impossible for the public to know which facilities were operating in violation of federal animal protection laws.”

Update: After Congress complains, USDA restores animal welfare reports (Science Magazine)

Science Magazine: Update: After Congress complains, USDA restores animal welfare reports. “Following Congress’s request for greater transparency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has apparently restored detail in its most recent animal welfare inspection reports. Reports published on the agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website since last August have omitted inventories that list the number and species of animals housed at facilities within companies and research institutions. But newly posted reports seem to reflect lawmakers’ concerns that such redactions make it hard to track the agency’s findings and activities.”

Humane Society of the United States: The HSUS sues USDA for failing to release animal welfare records under sunshine law

Humane Society of the United States: The HSUS sues USDA for failing to release animal welfare records under sunshine law. “In February 2017, shortly after the new administration took office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, without prior notice, removed from its website thousands of Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act inspection and enforcement records…. The USDA tried to spin the issue by saying that the public can simply obtain these documents by way of the Freedom of Information Act. But when The HSUS submitted requests last year under FOIA for records of inspections at three puppy mills in Ohio and at the Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia, where an HSUS undercover investigation discovered serious animal welfare violations, it was months later, and only after a threat to sue the USDA, that we finally received the requested documents. All relevant information, including the inspection dates, the number and species of animals at the facilities, and even the entire substance of the inspection reports (including whether or not there were any apparent AWA violations), was completely blacked out.”

Phys.org: Tracking planned experiments online could spot ways to improve animal testing

Phys.org: Tracking planned experiments online could spot ways to improve animal testing . “An online database of study summaries could be systematically evaluated to uncover new information about animal testing, including potential targets for efforts to minimize harm to lab animals. A demonstration of this approach is publishing 14 December in the open access journal PLOS Biology.”

New-to-me: Barnivore, A Database of Information About Vegan Alcohol Products

New-to-me: Barnivore, a database of vegan alcohol. From the home page: “It might seem weird at first, but your favourite drink might have more than just alcohol in it. Brewmasters, winemakers, and distillers may include animal ingredients in their products directly, or they might use them in the processing and filtration…. Our 34,684 entries have been checked and often double or triple checked by the Barnivore community and are gathered here for you to enjoy, and maybe submit a check of your own.”

USDA: USDA Rolls Out New APHIS Compliance Database and Search Tool

USDA: USDA Rolls Out New APHIS Compliance Database and Search Tool . “The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is pleased to announce the rollout of the refined public search tool that provides access to Animal Welfare Act compliance records. The public search tool is a component of the Animal Care Information System (ACIS) and will allow APHIS to make animal welfare information publicly available and ensure compliance with all applicable laws*.”

I’ve seen two different reactions asserting the tool doesn’t do what it says it does.

Courthouse News: USDA Ducks Demand to Put Animal-Abuse Records Online

Courthouse News: USDA Ducks Demand to Put Animal-Abuse Records Online. “A federal judge will not force the government to post animal-welfare compliance records online, finding public interest does not trump the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s duty to protect private individual information. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Orrick III denied the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s motion for a preliminary injunction that would have forced the USDA to make documents previously removed from several animal-welfare government databases available for public inspection.” Boo!