Senators Urge USDA To Restore Animal Cruelty Data To Website

TETERBORO, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez is calling on the Trump administration to immediately restore animal cruelty information that was recently removed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s animal and plant health inspection service’s website.

Speaking at the Bergen County Animal Shelter on Monday, Menendez said he wants to know why all the information was recently scrubbed from the site.

“I also want to know who was involved in making such a poor and misguided decision to give animal abusers a free pass,” Menendez said.

Elizabeth Jensen of Best Friends Animal Society said it makes it impossible for prospective pet owners to do their research.

“This is not just a humane issue, but a consumer protection issue,” Jensen said.

The site kept a detailed list of animal breeders with records, inspection and license information so that cities like New York and states like New Jersey could enforce their laws to prevent consumers from getting their pets from bad puppy mills, 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon reported.

“The public has a right to know if regulated entities have subjected animals in their care to abuse or otherwise failed to meet basic welfare standards,” Menendez and 17 other Democratic senators wrote in a letter to the USDA’s acting deputy secretary. “Public access to information can guide consumer decision making and plays an important role in deterring regulated entities from violating the law.”

Menendez also called it a transparency issue, saying that it’s not the first piece of information to disappear from a government website under the Trump administration.

“The American people cannot accept a government that provides ‘alternative facts’ or hides science, whether it’s removing animal welfare information, hiding climate change data, or deleting vital scientific studies,” said Sen. Menendez. “I’ll fight against efforts to keep Americans in the dark.”

A call seeking comment from the USDA on Monday was not immediately returned.

But a message posted on its website noted that the review of the APHIS’ website is ongoing and said the agency is striving to balance the need for transparency with rules protecting individual privacy.

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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