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Tell the USDA: You Must Protect Animals in Labs

Tell the USDA: You Must Protect Animals in Labs

Update: The comment period is now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a public comment on the Federal Register. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering new inspection standards to USDA-licensed facilities—including research laboratories.

These possible changes come under the guise of decreased regulations—but at the cost of the thousands of animals held captive in labs. 

As an animal advocacy organization, NEAVS strongly opposes changes that redirect inspections of USDA-licensed facilities to private organizations, allowing for dangerous self-policing of research labs at the detriment of animals purportedly protected under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). USDA considerations include:

  • Reducing the frequency of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) inspections at USDA-licensed facilities (including research labs)
  • Allowing USDA-licensed facilities (including research labs) to use third-party, private inspection programs

These third-party inspection programs would likely be conducted by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC), which provides voluntary accreditation to laboratories through a peer-reviewed and confidential process. Unlike APHIS, which currently conducts annual unannounced inspections for USDA-licensed facilities, AAALAC:

  • Only requires “site visits” be conducted once every three years
  • Provides advance notice to facilities, enabling them to address inadequacies prior to inspection
  • Does NOT fine facilities for noncompliance to the AWA
  • Purports that all documentation, including noted inadequacies, will be kept confidential, and away from public scrutiny

The USDA is soliciting public comments on the Federal Register until Wednesday, March 21, 2018—to aid in the development of criteria for recognizing the use of third-party inspection and certification programs as a positive factor when determining inspection frequencies at facilities licensed or registered under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).  

Activate your advocacy for animals in labs! Click below to submit your public comment to the USDA: 

        

SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS TO THE USDA: 

  1. Do not abdicate responsibility to ensuring adherence to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA)
  2. The use of third-party inspection and certification programs allows for ‘self-policing’ of USDA-licensed facilities; thereby eliminating transparency and accountability 
  3. These changes, if implemented, would seriously undermine the public interest for disclosure of records pertaining to the care and use of animals
  4. Above all, animals in labs deserve the protection afforded by direct agency oversight, unannounced annual inspections and transparency of records