Lee’s Lookout: Animal rights are not a political issue

Shaina Lee, Photo Editor

These past few weeks, thousands of documents detailing animal welfare violations have been removed from the website of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has been reporting them publically for decades, according to National Geographic and other major publications. These are the inspection records and annual reports for every commercial animal facility in the US, which are now being kept from the public in yet another attempt to keep citizens in ignorant bliss, other attempts being the banning of departments such as the EPA from releasing information to the public. But here’s the thing—no one’s talking about it.

Animal abuse is undeniably wrong. It’s heinous and indisputable, no matter to what extent you take it as being an issue. But in the eyes of our country’s administration, anyone who defends animals at the cost of business enterprise is an extremist. Organizations such as PETA and the Humane Society do nothing else but degrade businesses by exposing them, and by the USDA releasing reports of abuse, they’re only adding to the fire. A fire that our government is trying to extinguish.

Now, these documents reporting on abuse will only be accessible through Freedom of Information Act requests, which can take years to be approved. By purging records of abuse, welfare violations by animal industries, such as those for pet breeding, meat production, and zoos, will go unnoticed, as animal rights advocates would previously use these reports to monitor ethical treatment.

According to the President of the Calvary Group, an organization in support of animal enterprise, “the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was intended to provide transparency to government, not to be used against American citizens, yet this process is being used frequently by animal rights groups whose nefarious use of such private, confidential information is being handed to them by the USDA.” The accusation of animal rights groups as being “nefarious” is horribly hypocritical, as their goal is to limit the amount of abuse companies in the industry can carry out, which is more important than the confidentiality of the information, in my opinion.

In a statement Kathy Guillermo, the vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the move was “a shameful attempt to keep the public from knowing when and which laws and regulations have been violated. Many federally registered and licensed facilities have long histories of violations that have caused terrible suffering.”

These facilities can lose business due to exposure on their poor treatment of animals, and the pressure to act ethically may cost them more money than they’re willing to pay, so under the new purge they are able to thrive off of others’ obliviousness.

Multiple representatives of the USDA and people from organizations in support of animal enterprise have pushed this off to be for the “privacy” of the industries. The privacy. Because the privacy of abusers is more important than the abuse itself. It’s sickening.

For more details: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/02/wildlife-watch-usda-animal-welfare-trump-records/

USDA website: https://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome