Note: This article is part two of a four part series investigating the links between the United States Department of Agriculture and radical animal rights organizations. These articles were written by Philip Christofanelli, with The Cavalry Group, a national organization which defends the Constitutional rights of animal owners and breeders. Visit the previous article here.
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The bottom line is that the contemporary “animal rights” movement and its various factions are not what they seem. For every legitimate concern, there are dozens of front groups operated and funded by extremists with radical agendas. For instance, over the past several years, the ASPCA, PETA, and HSUS have been waging a war against so-called “puppy mills.” They lead Americans to believe that their focus is on rogue, unscrupulous dog breeders, but in a recent interview, the ASPCA admitted that they consider even law-abiding dog breeders to be “puppy mills.” Animal rights activists hold the belief that bringing new, pure-bred dogs into existence is unethical so long as there are dogs in shelters. Thus, they seek to put every law-abiding dog breeder permanently out of business by any means necessary.
Their public relations war against dog breeding has raked in countless millions from unsuspecting donors who are unaware of the fact that almost none of this money actually goes to the care of dogs. The numbers of abused animals are inflated and exaggerated to the point where you would think that puppy mills were an epidemic. In reality, all most all dog breeders are hard-working, rural Americans, who take very good care of their animals.
Recently, the activists have turned to a disturbing, new tactic of singling out individual breeders andpublishing their names, their addresses, and photographs of their breeding establishments. Where do they obtain such information, one might ask? The answer: None other than our own government, courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA, once tasked with protecting American farmers and breeders, has crawled into bed with the most anti-farming elements of the Left. Despite the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) explicitly granting a protection through Exemption 6 for any personal information that can be linked to an individual, the USDA decided to respond the ASPCA’s FOIA request by handing over the personal information and inspection photos of dog breeders from all over the United States.
As part of the inspection process, the USDA takes these photographs of breeding facilities in order to ensure compliance. Many breeders report being told that these photos are to be used only for the purpose of inspection. Several contactedThe Cavalry Group, an organization which defends the rights of animal owners, horrified to find pictures of their homes and businesses on the ASPCA website. Many of the photos were over 10 years old, and some included pictures of businesses that have changed owners. In several notable cases, the breeder in question had been deceased for many years.
The ASPCA wants people to believe that these photos depict a day-to-day reality of all dog breeding facilities. The photos, however, were taken out of context in order to support an exaggerated claim of widespread animal abuse and to renew calls for widespread regulation of the dog breeding industry. In reality, the breeding facility in question corrected any areas of non-compliance with the law shortly after the inspection. Yet today, their businesses are being perpetually smeared by an organization that seeks to bring about an end to pure-bred dogs in favor of adoption from shelters, all with the help of our own government.
The ASPCA is well within their rights to advocate for adoption, but using out of date information to smear the reputations of individual dog-breeders is going a step too far. Most importantly, the USDA should not be skirting FOIA exemptions in order to accommodate the agenda of radical activists. However, when the USDA is essentially bought and paid for by these very same groups, we should not expect anything less. A once-sensible objective of animal welfare has been corrupted by today’s activists, who exploit government in order to put animals ahead of humans at any cost.