Donald Trump's administration is blocking the public from seeing inspection records from puppy mill inspections, and animal rights activists are growing concerned that abuses may now be hidden from the public.
The effort to block puppy mill inspections came to light through the reporting of the Tampa Bay Times, which had sent a request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for records of inspections of 15 puppy breeders. A full six months later, the department delivered 54 pages that were entirely blacked out, the paper reported.
There had already been attention on Trump's efforts to block public access to puppy mill records. As Glamour noted last year, the Trump administration scrubbed these inspection records from the USDA's website. Under President Barack Obama, members of the public were able to go onto the site to read reports from puppy mill inspections, but under Trump, they would have to fill out a Freedom of Information Act request and wait several months for a response. As the Tampa Bay Times found out, even going through this process did not lead to any information about puppy mills and potential abuses or violations.
The lack of transparency has animal rights activists worried that there could be abuses at these dog breeders and that the public would not know about them.
"Having a USDA license for breeding dogs is like having a driver's license," John Goodwin, the senior director of the Humane Society of the United States Stop Puppy Mills campaign, told the Tampa Bay Times. "You get to hold onto it even with a number of citations, except now, no one knows what those citations are. The worst people in the world could be selling to pet stores, and no one is the wiser."This is not the first time that animal rights activists have taken aim at Donald Trump. The president also came under fire for going back on his word to keep in place a ban Obama placed on bringing elephant hunting trophies back into the United States. The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service released a memo that reversed 2017 Endangered Species Act findings and allowed elephant trophies from African nations to be imported on a "case by case basis," the Hill reported.
Animal rights activists have already been critical of Donald Trump and his family, as his adult sons have been known to take hunting trips to Africa, where they have killed elephants for trophies.