Agencies sign MOU on civil enforcement of Animal Welfare Act

MOU outlines new actions to enhance collaboration.

March 11, 2024

1 Min Read
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD), and USDA Office of the General Counsel (OGC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on civil judicial enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

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

The agencies said they have been closely collaborating on civil judicial enforcement of the AWA for almost four years. The collaboration has resulted in a number of important enforcement actions, including securing the surrender of close to 150 animals from a Michigan animal dealer, some of which are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and an injunction protecting dogs and cats against pervasive mistreatment at a breeder facility.

According to USDA APHIS, the MOU represents “another significant step forward” in AWA enforcement, as it outlines new actions the agencies will take to enhance their collaboration. In general, the MOU establishes a framework for notification, consultation, and coordination among APHIS, USDA’s General Counsel, and ENRD.

“Building on the agencies’ ongoing relationship, this framework formalizes procedures for regular meetings, coordination on enforcement referrals, information sharing, and additional training for employees, among other activities,” the agency said, adding that these procedures will better enable the agencies to prepare for and coordinate on potential civil enforcement actions.

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