Office of Inspector General Issues Scathing Report on USDA’s Puppy Mill Inspection Program
The Office of Inspector General for USDA has released a scathing 69 page report for an audit and investigation conducted between 2006 and 2008. This audit/investigation was prompted by a May 2006 meeting between OIG officials, CAPS and Crowell & Moring attorneys, who provide pro bono counsel and lobbying to CAPS.
In 2006, the Office of Inspector General requested a meeting with CAPS. The OIG never meets with citizens or nonprofits (they turned down our first request), so this must have been based on our in-depth investigations of hundreds of puppy mills where we document Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations and compare our findings to those of the USDA APHIS inspectors.
During a two hour meeting in May 2006, CAPS President Deborah Howard and CAPS attorneys/lobbyists Edward Green and David Ross met with two OIG officials. At this meeting, we discussed a long list of concerns and recommended necessary changes.
After that meeting, our lobbyists did not get a reply from OIG. The reason was that shortly after our meeting, the OIG commenced an investigation and audit, which ended in 2008.
All of the issues we covered in the meeting are in the report. In fact, the OIG report reads more like a CAPS investigation report (they included graphic photos, which is what we use in addition to undercover footage) than the usual dry government type OIG report. USDA officials, of course, are now saying they are going to make sweeping changes, and congressmen are calling for the same. CAPS has been meeting with congressional aides and USDA officials for more than eight years in an attempt to get oversight hearings and changes to the AWA.
CAPS will continue to cooperate with USDA while conducting ongoing oversight of the Animal Care inspection program. Since 1995, CAPS has been to approximately 1,000 commercial dog breeders and brokers, most of them federally licensed.
The USDA has been very negligent in its enforcement of AWA regulations with respect to commercial dog breeders and brokers. USDA APHIS/Animal Care uses inspectors, including veterinarians, to conduct "unannounced" inspections of federally licensed dog breeders and brokers who supply puppies to the pet shop industry.
For a good summary of the OIG report, read this article on the Animal Folks (run by CAPS Advisory Board member Ann Olson) website.