Why is the White House blocking access to puppy mill inspection records?

When a new president enters the White House there’s always a flurry of activity and extensive changes taking place in the first 100 days. That’s particularly true when control of the White House changes parties. But one of the changes which slipped past most of us in the early days of the Trump administration has been brought to light and it’s quite disturbing. For reasons which defy any explanation I can think of, shortly after Donald Trump took office, U.S. Department of Agriculture removed all records of dog breeder inspections from their website. This was noticed when the Tampa Bay Times requested records from a group of puppy breeders and they waited nine months for the request to be answered, When the records were delivered they were completely redacted.

In May of last year, the Tampa Bay Times asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide the three most recent inspections of 15 puppy breeders who supply Tampa-area stores.

It took nine months, but the reply arrived last week: 54 pages of total blackout.

Every word of every inspection — from the date to the violations — were redacted from the documents provided. Providing “personnel and medical files,” the agency said, would “constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

These records used to be available on the USDA website for anyone to search and find. But in the first month after President Donald Trump took office, the information was scrubbed entirely from the website.

This is one subject which is always sure to get my blood boiling and such a decision by the White House definitely requires some sort of explanation. Normally I’d at least hazard a guess as to why anyone in the government is taking some particular action, but in this case, I’ve got nothing to offer. Who in the world could possibly have thought this was a good idea? While there are obviously many caring and conscientious dog breeders out there who take good care of their charges, there are still far too many puppy mills in operation where dogs are treated in cruel and inhumane fashion.

Lax laws have allowed these despicable outfits to remain in operation for years, and it’s only recently that many (but not all) states have begun cracking down on them. The conditions some of the dogs are kept in is horrendous, amounting to little more than torture camps, all in the name of cranking out as many purebred puppies as possible to sell for a profit.

As longtime readers may recall, one of the dogs we adopted some years ago was a miniature schnauzer who had been seized by animal control from a puppy mill (which was thankfully shut down) and kept in a county dog shelter all through the trial. When we received Max, most of his physical wounds had healed, but the dog was an emotional wreck. He was unable to go up and down steps for a month because he’d never seen stairs before. He’d spent his entire life in a tiny cage in a barn, never receiving any human attention and not even allowed to interact with the other dogs. He was, to be honest, psychotic.

It’s beyond me who might have made this decision, either at the USDA or the White House, or who might have been pushing for it. This is a situation which calls for far, far more transparency, not secrecy. We’re looking into this now, but I still can’t conceive of any possible justification for this move.

A request for comment from the Department of Agriculture was not returned in time for publication.