USDA and DOJ support humane treatment of animals

The organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), and USDA Office of the General Counsel (OGC) have formalized their enforcement relationship through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Civil Judicial Enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

Announcing the MOU were Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of ENRD, USDA Principal Deputy General Counsel Mary Beth Schultz and USDA-APHIS Administrator Michael Watson.

This collaboration, spanning nearly four years, has already yielded significant results, such as the surrender of close to 150 animals from a Michigan animal dealer, including those protected under the Endangered Species Act, and an injunction safeguarding dogs and cats from mistreatment at a breeder facility.

The MOU marks a pivotal step in AWA enforcement, detailing new actions to strengthen collaboration. It establishes a framework for notification, consultation and coordination among APHIS, USDA’s general counsel and ENRD. This formalized structure includes regular meetings, coordination on enforcement referrals, information sharing and additional employee training, enhancing the agencies' preparedness and coordination for potential civil enforcement actions.

The joint commitment of USDA and DOJ towards ensuring the humane treatment of animals protected by the AWA is underscored by this MOU, reflecting their shared mission. For media inquiries, contact [email protected].

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