Bernadette Juarez has been named acting deputy administrator for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Animal Care (AC) program. As acting AC Deputy, Jurarez will lead the program’s many employees in protecting and ensuring the welfare of millions of animals nationwide that are covered under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Horse Protection Act (HPA).

She will also oversee the collaborative work done at AC’s Center for Animal Welfare, building critical partnerships domestically and internationally, while seeking to improve regulatory practices and develop training and educational resources.

Juarez is replacing Dr. Chester Gipson, who retired on January 1, after more than 13 years in the position.

Prior to this position, Juarez served with APHIS’ Investigative and Enforcement Services (IES), first as Deputy Director for 4.5 years and then as Director for 2.5 years. As director, she was responsible for leading investigations of alleged AWA and HPA violations, as well as all other APHIS-administered statutes and regulations, and pursuing enforcement actions where warranted.  She also transformed the unit’s ability to complete investigation and enforcement actions nearly 50 percent faster by streamlining its business processes and focusing on the highest priority investigations.


Her experience enforcing the AWA and HPA began prior to her joining APHIS as a trial attorney in USDA’s Office of the General Counsel from 2002 to 2009. In over six years, she represented APHIS in numerous AWA and HPA administrative enforcement proceedings.

In 1999, Juarez completed her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of New Mexico. She went on to earn her Juris Doctor from American University, Washington College of Law, in 2002.

“I am confident that Bernadette’s accomplished leadership and management experience, her commitment to results, her extensive knowledge and enforcement of both the AWA and HPA, and her passion for AC’s mission will prove invaluable to APHIS’ efforts to ensure more humane and healthy conditions for animals, while also working to end the cruel and inhumane practice of soring,” said Kevin Shea, administrator of APHIS.