USDA Animal Care Revises Its Animal Welfare Inspection Guide

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USDA Animal Care has updated two chapters in its Animal Welfare Inspection Guide – Required Inspection Procedures (Chapter 2) and Veterinary Care (Chapter 6). Of particular note is the section in Chapter 2 in which we publish specific guidance to our inspectors on how to use teachable moments when addressing certain minor non-compliant items.

A teachable moment is a minor non-compliant item that: 1) the facility is willing and able to correct quickly; 2) is not impacting the welfare of any animal(s); and 3) has not previously been cited. If a non-compliant item is having a noticeable impact on animal welfare, it cannot be a teachable moment.  

The impetus behind using teachable moments is the same motivation that drives all of our decisions – animal welfare and exploring all options for promoting compliance with the Animal Welfare Act. We see teachable moments as an educational approach that allows an inspector and a licensed/registered facility to work together to bring minor issues at that facility that are not impacting animal welfare into compliance with Animal Welfare Act regulations and standards. Our inspectors document teachable moments on a worksheet, which they then give to the facility, along with the inspection report.

“Little things can become big things if they are not properly addressed,” said Dr. Betty Goldentyer, director of Animal Welfare Operations. “By educating a facility through the use of teachable moments as an additional tool, we will be helping them correct non-compliant items that might affect the welfare of an animal.”

The updated Inspection Guide is posted here.

Also, the Inspection Guide will no longer contain Chapter 9, Animal Care Policies. Instead, Animal Care’s Policy Manual will now be posted as its own link on our website so that we can more efficiently post updates. The Policy Manual is posted here.    


At USDA Animal Care, ensuring the welfare of the animals we regulate is at the heart of everything we do.