A September 10, 2010 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) proves once again that the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) lacks the resources to enforce even the meager Animal Welfare Act regulations for businesses that profit from or use animals.
Earlier this year a scathing audit revealed the gross inadequacy of APHIS’ enforcement of regulations for commercial breeders . The audit prompted the PUPS Act, a bill that would regulate breeders that sell directly to the public as well as wholesalers and implement an enforceable scheme for exercise.
Now the GAO has found APHIS does not effectively monitor "[d]ealers who sell random source dogs and cats-animals obtained from pounds or shelters, auction sales, or from owners who bred and raised the animal on the owner’s premises-[and who] are referred to as random source Class B dealers."
"To ensure these dealers comply with AWA and its regulations, APHIS conducts unannounced inspections of their facilities at least quarterly and performs ‘tracebacks’-an oversight process unique to this type of dealer. Tracebacks involve APHIS inspectors using a dealer’s records to trace a particular dog or cat back to the source from which that dealer obtained the animal, both to verify the legitimacy of the sale and to ensure the dog or cat was not lost or stolen." Eight field inspectors are assigned to random source Class B dealers, and five of them are veterinary medical officers. As of July 2010, there were 9 Class B dealers licensed by APHIS to sell random source dogs and cats for research.
The GAO found "APHIS inspection reports documented one or more violations by seven of the nine random source Class B dealers from fiscal years 2007 through 2009…. As of July 2010, several of these dealers were under further investigation by APHIS in light of repeated violations… [A]bout 29 percent of tracebacks APHIS conducted during this period were either unsuccessful or had not been completed as of June 2010…. The agency does not fully use the traceback information it collects, and thus cannot ensure it is detecting problems with the process…"
In effect, GAO has concluded APHIS Animal Care inspectors simply cannot assure the public that random source Class B dealers are obtaining animals legitimately.
So, isn’t it time to ban the sale by Class B dealers of random source dogs and cats for research? In light of the GAO’s findings, Congress should pass immediately the Pet Safety and Protection Act, H.R. 3907 and S.B. 1834, a common sense measure to protect pets from theft and sale for research by unscrupulous Class B dealers. For more on this bill and notorious abuse of animals by Class B dealers ….