WASHINGTON, June 11, 2010 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently announced its intention to move more swiftly and consistently to take enforcement action in response to animal welfare violations, and to make its actions transparent and accessible to the public. As part of this effort, APHIS is issuing monthly press releases that highlight enforcement actions taken in response to violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Horse Protection Act (HPA).
The AWA requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially or exhibited to the public. It excludes those animals raised for food or fiber. Persons who operate facilities in these categories must provide their animals with adequate care and treatment in the areas of housing, handling, sanitation, nutrition, water, veterinary care and protection from extreme weather and temperatures.
To ensure that its licensees are meeting the AWA standards, APHIS inspectors conduct routine, unannounced inspections of all licensed facilities. Violations of the AWA can lead to penalties, including official warnings, civil penalties and license suspensions/revocations. For more information on the inspection and enforcement processes, visit APHIS’ animal care Web site at www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/ .
The HPA is the federal law that prohibits horses subjected to a practice called soring from participating in shows, sales, exhibitions and auctions. Soring is a cruel and abusive practice used to accentuate a horse’s gait. APHIS works actively with the horse industry to protect
against such abuse, ensuring that only sound and healthy horses participate in shows, sales, exhibitions and auctions. APHIS’ ultimate goal is to end the inhumane practice of soring completely.
The HPA authorizes APHIS to issue civil penalties and to disqualify violators from participating in horse shows, exhibitions and sales. Both the AWA and HPA contain criminal penalties as well.
Note to reporters: USDA news releases, program announcements and media advisories are available on the Internet and through really simple syndication (RSS) feeds. Go to the APHIS news release page at www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom and click on the RSS feed link. To receive APHIS releases automatically, send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org and leave the subject blank. In the message, type: subscribe press_releases.