Image by davidgsteadman via Flickr / CC BY 2.0
This is a political article. This same article is about dogs and cats and other pets. Unfortunately, you did not read that incorrectly.
On Feb. 3, suddenly and without warning, at the command of President Trump, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) wiped clean from its website all documentation of thousands of animal-related facilities regarding their adherence to or violation of the Animal Welfare Act. Overnight, civilians lost the ability to access any information whatsoever via the USDA website pertaining to the treatment of animals in breeding facilities, zoos, and research labs.
Similar to Trump’s order he gave to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) back in January, which demanded that the EPA remove all information regarding climate change from its website, this is not the first instance of the Trump Administration actively seeking to limit citizens’ access to crucial data.
In seven different states, it used to be the case that one could only buy a dog at a pet shop if it came from a breeder with good inspection reports from the USDA. Now, those reports are gone.
If one wishes to gain access to information on a certain dog breeder and the treatment of their dogs, for example, one will now have to file a Freedom of Information Act request – this process often takes years.
If you are already a pet owner and think this will not affect you or your pet because you were able to research and assure that your pet came from a safe, healthy environment, the grim reality is that your pet is still at risk. During the Trump campaign, his people put forth a proposal to limit what they call “the FDA food police” because the FDA “even dictates the nutritional content of dog food.” In 2007, the FDA recalled dog food on 23 separate occasions; 11 of those recalls occurred because the dog food contained poison. Now, if this proposal is to move forward, dog owners will have no way to guarantee that what they are feeding their pets is not, in fact, poison.
Perhaps the saddest reality of this all is that what it comes down to is something no animal may understand: money. The lives, safety, and humane treatment of innocent animals are being jeopardized all for the sake of money.
As part of his plan to save $1 trillion over the next decade, Trump wishes to cut back on government regulations. Food safety and environmental awareness are not immune to these cutbacks in the eyes of Trump. “My plan will embrace the truth that people flourish under a minimum government burden,” said Trump. According to him, many of the FDA’s regulations, including the one that does not allow dog food to be sold if there is poison in it, is “inspection overkill.”
To put the government’s spending priorities in perspective, the most recent estimate of what it would cost to build Trump’s border wall is now up to $21.6 billion.
As French poet, journalist, and novelist, Anatole France once said, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Now of course there are plenty of good-hearted, compassionate people who have never had the chance to bond with an animal. However, I imagine it would be a lot easier to propose legislation that directly harms animals, all for the sake of money, if one had never once owned a pet – if one had never felt love or empathy for an animal. Unsurprisingly, there are no records of Donald Trump ever owning a pet.
Whatever your political views, please take a moment to consider the fact that the current administration is one that values monetary profit more than the well-being of animals or the freedom of access to information. I ask that you ask yourself if this is something you can honestly and full-heartedly support.
While you think over this question, please sign the petition for the USDA to end their Animal Welfare information blackout here.