2005 Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act:
Whose Side is the USDA on?

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Articles and Reports

2005 Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act: Whose Side is the USDA on?
By Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T., Executive Director, SAEN
saen@saenonline.org 

National Trends in Violations of the Animal Welfare Act

The Animal Welfare Act regulates many industries that use animals. The provisions of the AWA are very basic in nature, primarily governing issues such as sustenance, housing, sanitation, adequacy of veterinary care, etc. Therefore, the trends in violation of this act should provide a snapshot as to the overall treatment of domesticated animals in the United States. For complete statistics on violation of the Animal Welfare Act for the years 2004 & 2005 please see Appendix A.

The Animal Welfare Act was violated 20,845 times during the reporting year ending in September of 2005. These violations negatively altered the lives of 1,364,358 animals. Statistics for the year ending in September of 2004 there were 18,275 violations potentially injuring 382,823 animals. This is a single year increase of 2570 violations (14.1 %) and 981,535 (256.4%) animals. For an additional basis for comparison -- the number of violations during 2002 was 14,461 with 324,090 animals potentially harmed or a three-year increase of 44% in violations (6384) and 321% in animals impacted (1,040,268). The trends revealed by these statistics clearly indicate that the fate of animals within the United States is worsening, and that this change is accelerating. More animals are suffering in our nations institutions, and the laws governing their care are being violated on an increasingly regular basis. For Graphic representations of these statistics, please see the charts below.

During the year ending in September of 2005 the Animal Welfare Act was violated 2.4 times every hour, and 65.5 animals suffered as a result of each of these violations.

Some violations impact the lives of animals more directly than others. While record keeping requirements may not have the highest direct impact on the lives of individual animals, other areas have a much clearer influence.

Areas which have a clear and undeniable effect on the lives of animals would include: food, water, veterinary care, sanitation, shelter, space, exercise, etc. During the year ending in September of 2005 regulations governing these areas were violated 7,211 times impacting 834,642 animals. Similar numbers for the previous year were 3,975 violations impacting 174,032 animals. For the 2005 reporting year violations in these areas increased by 81% and the number of animals negatively impacted by these violations increased by 379%. The animals involved in these violations comprised 61% of all animals effected by violations of the Animal Welfare Act for the 2005 reporting year. Please see Appendix B for full statistics on these violations.

In many instances it is not possible to ascertain which violations are relevant to which type of regulated entity. The regulations for many areas are common to all regulated entities. For example, the regulations governing feeding, watering and housing of animals can cover dealers, exhibitors, intermediate handlers, and even laboratories.

However, many regulations are specific to laboratories due to the specialized nature of their animal use. Laboratories violated the AWA 1,780 times during the 2005 reporting year. During the 2004 reporting year the same regulations were violated 1,491 times, and again 1,106 times in 2002. The 2005 violation total for laboratories represents a one-year increase of 19.4% or a three-year increase of 60.9%. The rate of increase in violations by laboratories is climbing faster than the statistics for all categories of animal use. The chart below provides a graphic representation of this information.

In summary it is clear that the Animal Welfare Act is being violated at a rate that is increasing dramatically, and that the number of animals impacted by this higher number of violations is increasing at an even higher rate. More animals are suffering in more direct ways as well because many of the types of violations that directly change the lives of animals in captivity are increasing at a high rate, as is the number of animals whose lives are changed by these violations.

The most logical question that must be discussed is what is the USDA/APHIS/AC doing about the increase in these violations? This issue will be discussed in the next section of this report.

Go on to The OIG Audit of the USDA/APHIS/AC
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2005 Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act
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