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Not As Many

The US Department of Agriculture has issued fewer citations to animal facilities last year than it has previously, the Washington Post reports. Rather than being attributed to better compliance, it adds that the difference appears to be due to weaker enforcement.

The USDA oversees some 8,000 animal facilities in the US, including research labs, pet breeders, and zoos, among others, that are subject to inspections, the Post notes. It adds that in 2017, USDA inspectors uncovered more than 4,000 violations, including 331 it deemed serious. But last year, inspectors uncovered less than 1,800 violations, 128 of which were serious.

Critics tell the Post that this drop in citations is due to the "gutting" of the Animal Welfare Act and an increase in "leniency." The Post adds that Bernadette Juarez, USDA's deputy director for animal care, previously said the enforcement process has been overhauled and encourages inspectors to work with facilities and their veterinarians to fix issues and that such exchanges might not be documented.