Wednesday, February 10, 2016

USDA dog kennel inspection reports to be posted online

Chalk one up for the Obama administration's new era of transparency.

USDA dog kennel inspection reports to be posted online


Chalk one up for the Obama administration's new era of transparency.

Beginning today the U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to make available its large database of commercial dog kennel inspection reports. That means for the first time the public can easily access details of the conditions inspectors find at all the kennels that sell to pet stores throughout the United States.

The USDA will post inspection reports on its Website (though not yet as of 6:30 a.m.) for thousands of kennels, along with catteries, exotic animal breeding operations and, soon, research facilities. Until now, virtually all of the reports were available only through Freedom of Information Act requests that took months to fulfill.

A USDA spokeswoman told me while the agency had long wanted to put inspection reports online, it was the Obama administration's "new emphasis on transparancy" and the addition of more computer database experts in the agency that finally made it happen. Reports will be posted dating back to 2006.

Bob Baker, an investigator with the ASPCA said the database will help advocates track problem kennels but would offer little for the average dog buyer.

"It could be misleading to consumers if they are relying on it to purchase a dog," he said. "We know USDA does a poor job enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, so a prospective buyer shouldn't interpret a kennel that passes inspection as necessarily being a good kennel."

In most states the USDA is the only enforcement agency regularly inspecting commercial kennels. In Pennsylvania, the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement inspects all licensed kennels at least twice a year. In 2007, Gov. Rendell ordered that all state inspection reports be posted online.


Here's how to access the federal inspection reports: go to the APHIS homepage at and click on FOIA Reading Room, in the right-hand portion of the screen. The inspection reports will be available under the Animal Welfare heading in the Reading Room. Choose the type of licensee or registrant you are interested in, and then choose the state. Once you choose the state, you will be able to scroll through the alphabetical list of licensee or registrant names and make your selection.


The USDA regulates more than 5,200 animal breeding, research and exhibit facilities - including more than 200 in Pennsylvania. Inspectors enforce the Animal Welfare Act which provides standards for housing, sanitation, food and water and condition of the animal. Wholesale breeders in Pennsylvania must hold a USDA license and state kennel license and are subject to inspections from both agencies. The amended Pennsylvania dog law enacted last year imposes higher standards than the Animal Welfare Act, including larger cages, a ban on stacking and wire floors, most of which go into effect in October.

Inquirer Staff Writer
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog
Amy Worden is a politics and government reporter for the Inquirer. In that capacity she has explored a range of animal issues from dog kennel law improvements and horse slaughter to the comeback of peregrine falcons and pigeon hunts. From hamsters to horses, animals have always been part of her life. To pass along a tip or contact Amy, click here. Reach Amy at

Amy Worden Inquirer Staff Writer
Latest Videos:
Also on
letter icon Newsletter