I would like to thank President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for closing a loophole in slaughter regulations. Under the former system, cattle who collapsed after their veterinary examination were allowed into our food system. Beside posing a safety risk to humans, these animals suffered as they were picked-up with forklifts or dragged behind tractors to the kill station. Under the new system, these animals will be humanely euthanized.
Now I hope that President Obama and Secretary Vilsack will extend the same consideration to animals used in research and housed at zoos and aquariums. In 2005, the Office of Inspector General found that USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service were not pursing enforcement action against violators of the Animal Welfare Act. They also discounted fines for violators so heavily (75%), that they were no longer a deterrent. Some institutions did not comply with the Animal Welfare Act because it was cheaper to pay the fines than to properly take care of the animals. I strongly urge our current administration to order both the Eastern and Western Regions of the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS) to implement the recommendations made in the Audit Report. The duty of this agency is to protect animals by enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, not the institutions that house them.