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USDA Announces Recent Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act Enforcement Actions

Posted: October 1, 2013

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is continuing to move more swiftly and consistently to take enforcement action in response to animal welfare violations.

APHIS is highlighting enforcement actions taken in response to violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and Horse Protection Act (HPA)

  • make actions transparent and accessible to the public
  • Copies of documents related to these actions, as well as copies of official warnings, are available in the APHIS FOIA Reading Room.

During the month of August, APHIS filed administrative complaints alleging of violations

  • involved parties entered into pre-litigation settlement agreements (also known as stipulations) in connection with alleged violations.
  • USDA's administrative law judges and judicial officer issued decisions and orders under the AWA or HPA
  • The AWA requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially or exhibited to the public. It excludes those animals raised for food or fiber. Persons who operate facilities in these categories must provide their animals with adequate care and treatment in the areas of housing, handling, sanitation, nutrition, water, veterinary care and protection from extreme weather and temperatures.
  • To ensure that licensees are meeting the AWA standards, APHIS inspectors conduct routine, unannounced inspections of all licensed facilities. Violations of the AWA can lead to penalties, including official warnings, civil penalties and license suspensions/revocations.
  • For more information on the inspection and enforcement processes, visit APHIS’ animal care website.

What Is HPA?

  • The HPA is the federal law that prohibits horses subjected to a practice called soring from participating in shows, sales, exhibitions and auctions.

What is Soring?

Soring is a cruel and abusive practice used to accentuate a horse’s gait. APHIS works actively with the horse industry to protect against such abuse, ensuring that only sound and healthy horses participate in shows, sales, exhibitions and auctions.

  • APHIS’ ultimate goal is to end the inhumane practice of soring completely.
  • The HPA authorizes APHIS to issue civil penalties and to disqualify violators from participating in horse shows, exhibitions and sales. Both the AWA and HPA contain criminal penalties as well.

USDA news releases, program announcements and media advisories are available on the Internet and through really simple syndication (RSS) feeds.

  • Go to the APHIS news release page and click on the RSS feed link.
  • USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call 800-795-3272 (voice) or 202-720-6382 (TDD).