Eyes on Washington week ending 09.08.17

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USDA Seeks Public Input on Updates to Animal Welfare Act Licensing Requirements

In a press release issued on August 23rd, the USDA announced in conjunction with the 51st anniversary of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) that the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue asked for input from the public to help determine potential updates to the law’s licensing requirements. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is tasked with upholding and enforcing the AWA. The AWA was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on August 24, 1966.

“As a trained veterinarian, humane standards of care for animals are close to my heart and central to my love and concern for our four-legged friends,” Perdue said.

“Administering the AWA is a key USDA mission, and we are always looking for ways to improve. We welcome comments from the public as APHIS considers changes to the licensing requirements to help us fulfill this important responsibility.”

Each year, USDA issues nearly 6,000 licenses to people who breed, sell, or exhibit animals for commercial purposes. The department is responsible for ensuring that these licensees comply with the AWA’s humane standards of care, which enables the American public to confidently purchase pets and view animals on public display.

The full list of potential changes was published on August 24, 2017 in the Federal Register. Comments will be accepted by the agency through October 23, 2017 on the Regulations.gov website and in writing.

On August 18, 2017, APHIS unveiled a refined public search tool that provides access to AWA compliance records

The public search tool is a component of the Animal Care Information System and will allow APHIS to make animal welfare information publicly available and ensure compliance with all applicable laws.

In July 2016, APHIS formally initiated a comprehensive review and update of Animal Care’s website, publications, and correspondence to eliminate out of date content, improve the information provided, and balance its commitment to transparency with applicable laws, including rules protecting personal privacy.

The ACIS search tool was taken off-line for review on February 3, 2017. During this review, APHIS reposted annual reports of animal research facilities as well as many inspection reports. The reports were posted on a rolling basis in February, March, April, and June, 2017.

The refinements to the ACIS search tool remain ongoing to promote the user experience. As part of a comprehensive website review, APHIS is continuing to review animal inventories that accompany inspection reports for accuracy. For this reason, the newly posted inspection reports do not include animal inventories, but APHIS intends to make this information available in the future.

APHIS is offering the ACIS search tool to the public to provide information on APHIS’ performance of its statutory duties under the Animal Welfare Act, in accordance with privacy laws.

The public may also request additional Animal Welfare Act records from APHIS through the Freedom of Information Act.

A comprehensive User Guide for the ACIS search tool is available here:
USDA/APHIS Animal Care Public Search Tool Users Guide

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