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

Risk Based Inspection System

Animal Care (AC)  uses a risk-based inspection system to support its focused inspection strategy, allowing more frequent and in-depth inspections at facilities with a higher risk of animal welfare concerns, and fewer at those that are consistently in compliance.  The system, initiated in 1998, uses several objective criteria, including but not limited to past compliance history, to determine the minimum inspection frequency at each licensed and registered facility.  Facilities meeting the criteria for low-frequency intervals are subject to inspection once every year, or every 2–3 years, or in some cases only when we receive a complaint.   Facilities determined to require high-frequency inspections are subject to inspection as often as every 3 months.  Those in the middle are inspected about once per year.  Registered research facilities are inspected at least once per year, as required by the AWA.  With this system, AC has been able to provide more in-depth inspections and improve the Agency’s interactions with licensees and registrants—an approach that APHIS firmly believes makes better use of AC’s inspection resources.

After the Inspection: If inspectors discover conditions or records that are not in compliance with the regulations, AC typically establishes a deadline for correcting these items and provides it in the inspection report unless the noncompliance is a repeat noncompliance, because for repeat noncompliance, the original correction deadline has already passed, and no additional time is given.  Inspectors are required to reinspect within 45 days any facilities where areas of noncompliance were found that have, or are likely to have, a serious impact on the well-being of the animals.  In cases of unrelieved suffering, AC may confiscate the animals or arrange for their placement elsewhere. BETWEEN 2010-2015, AC, with the assistance of IES and OGC, either confiscated or facilitated the voluntary surrender of over 11,000 animals. The species involved include dogs, farm animals, hedge hogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, black bears, lions, tigers, rabbits, cats, chimpanzees, cougars, and alpacas. AC also assisted State, county or local agencies with a seizure or surrender. 

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