Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer urged the federal Department of Agriculture under President Donald Trump to reconsider a decision to remove an online database of inspection reports on animal facilities, such as dog and cat breeding centers.
The New York Democrat said the database helped expose puppy mills and other inhumane facilities. Schumer and fellow Democrat, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, have written to the USDA urging it to reverse its decision. They say the decision puts animals at risk.
“When it comes to protecting animals and potential pets, the Trump administration’s USDA has just dropped the ball by doing away with access to information that safeguards vulnerable animals and outs abusive puppy mills,” Schumer said.
The Associated Press first reported on the USDA removing the inspection reports earlier this month.
Schumer says the USDA inspects about 9,000 breeding centers, laboratories and other animal facilities annually.
In a statement on its website, the USDA says an ongoing review of its online information began before Trump took office. The agency says the decision to remove the database is intended to balance transparency with personal privacy. It says the information can be obtained through open-records requests.
A spokeswoman for the agency declined further comment Friday.
“We will respond directly to them (Schumer and Menendez) regarding their concerns,” spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said.