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Letter to Animal Care Stakeholders Regarding Teachable Moments

To our valued stakeholders:

Thank you for investing your time, attention, and commitment to APHIS’ Animal Care (AC) program. We in AC believe the future is bright and exciting, and we are moving in the right direction. We are committed to keeping you updated when there are changes to program processes, and I’d like to personally share a change regarding what we call “teachable moments”.

The humane treatment of animals has always been AC’s top priority, and we use all available options to carry out this goal. As you know, during inspections of licensees, AC officials identify and document noncompliances or violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The majority of these noncompliances directly impact the welfare or care of the animals; however, there are often other minor, isolated noncompliances that do not have such an impact and are easily corrected. In 2016, AC officials began documenting these minor noncompliances on a separate form and using them as “teachable moments”. Licensees that had multiple or serious non-compliances were not eligible for teachable moments.

As directed by Congress, the use of teachable moments will end, and, as of August 1, all noncompliances (those that directly impact the welfare of the animals, those that have indirect impacts on animals’ welfare, and even very minor noncompliances) will now be cited on inspection reports. Teachable moments documented during inspections prior to August 1 will not be removed from the public search tool and those forms will still be available for public viewing. We will revise the introductory language on the public search tool beginning tomorrow to ensure it is clear that teachable moments forms are not being used but that those documented prior to August 1 are still available.

I would like to again thank you all for your continued loyalty and support in protecting animal welfare in the United States.


Dr. Betty Goldentyer
Deputy Administrator for APHIS’ Animal Care program

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