When the USDA took its animal abuse database offline in February, some activists were concerned that they would be unable to adequately research their campaigns. The deleted info is still public, however; the state is simply making it more difficult for us to obtain. I’m guessing that, aside from the big welfare orgs, not many activists had even seen the deleted database. So this is a great time for grassroots activists to add some tools to their repertoire.
What is the USDA hiding?
The state claims that it fears for the safety of its federally-funded animal abusers. Therefore, it defends deleting this database which basically allowed us:
- to easily find abusers by location;
- to determine how many animals are in a the possession of a given business;
- and it allowed us to examine annual inspection reports of said business.
Much of what is gone is still readily available. It may just take a little longer to connect all the dots.
Finding Federally-Funded Abusers
Apparently, animal abusers want to hide the animals they abuse, but they don’t seem to have any problem applying for grants, writing research papers, and buying homes.
The NIH Reporter database contains a wealth of information about abusers across the country funded through the National Institutes of Health. Click the hyperlink and type in the name of your local university, business, or breeder at the line for “Organization;” choose “Submit Query” at the bottom of the form. If you don’t know what businesses are in your backyard, enter your city and state in the appropriate fields and hit “Submit Query.” This will tell you how much taxpayer money is flowing into any given institution annually. Please note: these grants cover legitimate research as well as fraudulent vivisection so one needs to be diligent in searching through this data.
In a few weeks I will be announcing a free workshop that will teach activists to thoroughly research abusers, acquiring a wealth of personal information, and how to initiate a comprehensive & strategic campaign to shut them down. The NIH Reporter is a good place to start and familiarize yourself with the data. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more.
Filing FOIAs and state-level open records requests
Armed with your information from the NIH, you are ready to file both state-level open records requests as well as federal Freedom of Information Act requests to begin to connect the dots. Federally-funded experiments are considered “public records” and so you are entitled to begin to penetrate the labs legally. The basic difference is that FOIAs will go to federal agencies such as the USDA and open records requests will go to the recipients of federal grants like universities.
1) It is vital to file open records requests with your targeted university or business. This letter generator provided by Student Press Law Center allows you to fill in the items you seek and other contact information and it will print out a legally-cited letter according to the state in which you are filing. You are entitled to ask for:
- protocol(s) for the experiment(s) you seek (protocols tell you in layman’s terms exactly how they intend to torture the animals, who is funding the experiment, the duration of the experiment and, most importantly, who is responsible for the immediate hands-on mutilation and who is supervising it);
- vet records and daily lab charts for the animals being harmed in the experiment (the vet records will give you a snapshot of the agony the victims endure on a daily basis, but they will also give you the names of breeders, drivers, and other individuals who are the tertiary targets for any comprehensive anti-viv initiative);
- all images and/or video that exist for the experiment.
2) Filing federal FOIAs has become essential in order to secure USDA inspection reports. Do not be distracted by welfare issues; remember that welfare simply defines legalized torture. But these reports will tend to illuminate certain issues in the labs (or other business) or give pictures and other details about the animals. iFOIA.org provides a federal letter generator that works in the same manner as the state-level one discussed above. You may register for iFOIA HERE.
July 21, 2017