WASHINGTON, May 25, 2010 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the following statement regarding OIG's audit of USDA's inspection of problematic dog dealers.
“As a staunch advocate for animal welfare, I take the findings in this report very seriously. Although the time period examined by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) occurred largely before I became Agriculture Secretary, the issues raised about the regulation of problematic dog dealers are very troubling, and under my watch, USDA will reinforce its efforts under its animal welfare responsibilities, including: tougher penalties for repeat offenders and greater consistent action to strongly enforce the law.
“The OIG's audit process is an important part of our work at USDA, helping identify problems and enabling us to do our jobs better. APHIS has put together an action plan to address the OIG recommendations, as well as ensure the Agency enforces the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) to the fullest extent possible. We are taking immediate actions to strengthen our enforcement of the AWA, specifically in the areas of enforcement, penalties and inspector training. I am committed to work with Congress to make resources available to carry out this plan, and am confident that the changes we are making will significantly strengthen our animal welfare program."
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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).