ALDF Weighs in on Veterinary Records Rule

Posted on July 1, 2003

(Washington, D.C.) ALDF has submitted comments to the United States
Department of Agriculture praising a proposed rule change that would
require zoos, research laboratories and breeders to keep medical
records on the animals in their care. Currently, the regulations do not
explicitly require facilities to maintain veterinary medical records.

“Maintaining medical records is a critical component to providing
adequate veterinary care — and providing evidence of that care,” says
Wendy M. Anderson, managing attorney in ALDF’s Washington, D.C.,
litigation office. “The new rule would give USDA inspectors a valuable
tool for assessing whether or not a facility with sick, dying or even
dead animals had in fact provided those animals with adequate care.
Otherwise, they would have to just take the facility’s word for it –
which is what the inspectors now have to do.”

Though the comments submitted by ALDF support the change, they
also called for some improvements to the proposed rule. In its current
form, the rule would require facilities to document specific problems,
such as injury or illness, but not routine preventive health measures,
such as birth control or de-worming. There is also no requirement for
research labs to keep records of the procedures they subject animals
to. Behavior problems would not have to be documented, and records
would only be required to be kept for three years instead of for the
life of the animal. In its comments, ALDF calls for all of these
loopholes to be closed.

“The new rule is a good step, but it could and should be stronger,”
Anderson says. “We hope USDA will take the appropriate action to make
this a real victory for animals in captivity.”

USDA solicited comments from the public for 60 days. The comment period ended June 10, 2003.

To read ALDF’s comments on the proposed rule, download the document here. (PDF)