U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin Call on USDA IG to Audit Oversight of Dog Breeders

Credit: Humane Society

October 29, 2021 – Washington – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Along with Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) And six of her colleagues, urged the Inspector General of the Department of Agriculture to conduct a more in-depth review to properly examine the animal’s oversight on Thursday – and phytosanitary inspection service via dog breeders who are regulated by the Animal Welfare Act. The motion comes after the Inspector General found in a recent report that the COVID-19 pandemic has hampered efforts to get a full review that the Senators are now calling for.

“In the recently released report, the OIG stated that it was unable to conduct a full audit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The auditors originally planned to visit 120 dog kennels in 15 states, but those inspections have been canceled due to the pandemic. As a result, no critical information has been obtained about whether licensed facilities provide decent care for dogs, how inspectors conduct inspections, and whether inspectors accurately document violations or adequately track previous violations. The report states that because of these restrictions, the inspectors were unable to ensure or assess the breeders’ compliance with the AWA. ” wrote the senators.

“In 2010 we were pleased with the OIG’s extensive audit to determine the effectiveness of APHIS ‘oversight of dog dealers. During this review, OIG made recommendations based on its findings that the APHIS enforcement process was ineffective against problem dealers. In view of the incomplete audit in 2021, we fear that many of the problems identified in the 2010 audit will continue to be disregarded and problematic dog dealers may operate unchecked. ” They continued.

Durbin and Feinstein include Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (DN.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Reverend Raphael Warnock (D- Ga.) And Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

The full text of the letter follows and is available here.

October 28, 2021

Dear General Inspector Fong:

After reviewing the Animal Care Program Oversight of Dog Breeders audit recently published by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), we are requesting the OIG to conduct a more in-depth audit to properly investigate the Animal and Phytosanitary Inspection Service (APHIS). Supervision of dog breeders regulated by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

In the recently released report, the OIG found that it was unable to conduct a full audit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The auditors originally planned to visit 120 dog kennels in 15 states, but those inspections have been canceled due to the pandemic. As a result, no critical information has been obtained about whether licensed facilities provide humane care for dogs, how inspectors conduct controls, and whether inspectors accurately document violations or adequately track previous violations. The report notes that because of these limitations, the inspectors were unable to ensure or assess the breeders’ compliance with the AWA.

In 2010 we were delighted to have OIG’s comprehensive audit to determine the effectiveness of APHIS ‘oversight of dog dealers. During this review, OIG made recommendations based on its findings that the APHIS enforcement process was ineffective against problem dealers. Given the incomplete audit in 2021, we fear that many of the problems identified in the 2010 audit will continue to be disregarded and problematic dog dealers may operate unchecked.

Overall, while we commend the OIG for their efforts to conduct this follow-up audit and understand the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, we remain concerned about the incomplete audit in 2021. Over 2,000 dog breeders are currently licensed by the USDA, and inadequate supervision could put hundreds of thousands of dogs at risk . Therefore, once the pandemic conditions are safer, we request that the OIG conduct an in-depth investigation into APHIS ‘oversight of dog breeders.

Breeders’ compliance with applicable regulations helps ensure the health and safety of the dogs they care for. We thank you for your consideration.

Sincere,
Source: Senator Dianne Feinstein