Skip to main content

U.S. flag An official website of the United States government

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA FAQ's and resources about coronavirus (COVID-19).  LEARN MORE

Message to AWA Licensees and Registrants: Animal Care Inspections During COVID-19 Pandemic

To Animal Welfare Act Licensees and Registrants:

USDA, APHIS, Animal Care is appreciative of the efforts being made across the country to continue to provide excellent animal care under increasingly difficult circumstances.   We know that exhibitors, breeders and research facilities are all dealing with resource, personnel, transportation and financial issues and we have heard concerns about USDA inspections and your essential personnel.

Animal Care is continuing to conduct inspections when we become aware of serious welfare concerns.  We are limiting routine inspections based on our assessment of the risk to the inspectors and facility personnel.  In the event that we do request an inspection, we understand that you may have exposure concerns or be dealing with very limited staff.  Our inspectors will work with you to address the specific concern, use video or photos, or simply come back another time.  This will not be considered a refusal to allow inspection but rather a joint effort to address this serious public health emergency while still assuring the welfare of animals.  As always, animals covered under the Animal Welfare Act should continue to receive appropriate care to ensure their health and well-being.  We are available to discuss individual situations with facilities.

We know that facility employees are key to ensuring that appropriate care is provided to animals every day.  State and local exceptions to travel and other restrictions are often focused on medical and emergency response personnel and may not include these employees who are so essential to the well-being of your animals.  Animal Care cannot identify those essential personnel for each facility but we encourage you each to do so.  And while Animal Care cannot overrule local restrictions on public citizens, we are available to explain the critical nature of the work of these essential employees to state or local officials if needed.

Again, thank you for caring for the animals and if you have any questions please contact your inspector, email us at, or call our Ft. Collins, CO (970-494-7478) or Riverdale, MD office (301-851-3740).

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit

Complementary Content