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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Animal Welfare Act Inspections

Animal Care (AC) personnel perform two major types of inspections: pre-licensing inspections and unannounced compliance inspections. In addition to routine inspections, AC inspectors follow up on complaints from the public regarding regulated facilities, including reports that facilities are conducting regulated activity without an Animal Welfare Act license or registration.


Each person applying for a license must demonstrate that his or her premises and animals, which includes animal facilities, vehicles, equipment, or other sites used or intended for use in the business, comply with the regulations and standards of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). AC personnel perform pre- licensing inspections of dealers and exhibitors prior to issuing a license. Pre-registration inspections are not required under the Act, but facilities may request one. Whenever possible, the program honors these requests in order to promote the highest level of compliance.

AC personnel conduct unannounced compliance inspections at the facilities of all licensees and registrants to ensure that they are operating in compliance with the AWA.. Inspectors review the premises, facilities, husbandry practices, program of veterinary care, records, and animal handling procedures. According to the AWA, research facilities that use animals covered under the Act are inspected at least once a year for compliance. APHIS also uses a risk-based system to determine minimum inspection frequencies for all licensees and registrants.

Additional Information

Complaints and Searches

In addition to conducting unannounced compliance inspections of licensed and registered facilities, AC personnel also perform inspections in response to legitimate concerns and complaints received from the public. AC personnel also conduct periodic searches to identify any facilities that fall under the regulations of the AWA but are operating without a license or registration.

Notify an AC Office if you see individuals or businesses conducting regulated activities without a USDA license or registration, or if you see regulated animals in need of proper care. Send the following information:

  • Name of the individual or business
  • Address of the individual or business or location where you saw the animal or activity
  • USDA License or Registration number if known
  • Date on which you saw the animal or activity
  • Description of what you saw and have concerns about

Submit online or send the information to:

Fort Collins, Colorado, Office
2150 Centre Ave.
Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117

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