Animal Welfare Act Inspections

Animal Welfare Act Inspections

Animal Care (AC) personnel perform two major types of inspections: prelicensing inspections and unannounced compliance inspections.

Each person applying for a license must demonstrate that his or her premises and animals, facilities, vehicles, equipment, or other premises used or intended for use in the business comply with the regulations and standards of the Animal Welfare Act. AC personnel perform prelicensing inspections of dealers and exhibitors prior to issuing a license. Preregistration 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 regulations and standards of care. The inspections review the premises, facilities, husbandry practices, program of veterinary care, records, and animal handling procedures. The Animal Welfare Act requires that APHIS perform at least one compliance inspection per year at each research facility that uses animals covered under the Act. APHIS also uses a risk-based system to determine minimum inspection frequencies.

AC inspectors regularly conduct prelicensing and compliance inspections. The Animal Welfare Act requires that regulated research facilities be inspected at least once per year. Additionally, AC uses a risk based inspection system to determine inspection frequency at all regulated facilities.

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.

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 Animal Welfare Act but are operating without a license or registration.

Notify the AC Regional 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

Send the information to:

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


Eastern Regional Office
920 Main Campus Drive,
Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27606-5210


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