"The condemnation was swift when the Agriculture Department announced two weeks ago that it had pulled from its website the animal welfare records from 9,000 research labs, dog breeders and other facilities.
And while the first critics were, not surprisingly, animal-protection organizations that depend on the records to expose abuse, opposition quickly expanded to some of the industries regulated by the department.
This week, the department was sued over its move, and federal lawmakers began pressing the Trump administration to again make the records public.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Beagle Freedom Project, Born Free USA and other animal rights groups argue in a federal lawsuit that the removal of the records violates the Freedom of Information Act, which requires government agencies to post frequently requested records on their websites. The groups also contend that removal gets in the way of state and local laws banning the sale of dogs from breeders that have violated the Animal Welfare Act, which the USDA enforces along with the Horse Protection Act."