USDA Animal Care Revises its Inspection Guide

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To continue providing clear guidance to our inspectors and to keep up to date with our recent guidance documents, we have revised our Animal Welfare Inspection Guide.

Revisions include the following:

  • providing specific guidance on using teachable moments to assure consistency [Chapter 2, page 5]
  • identifying critical noncompliant items (items that already have, are currently having, or may soon have a direct impact on the welfare of an animal; or those that affect an inspector’s ability to perform his/her job), which will help us determine the correct frequency of follow-up inspections [Chapter 2, page 9]
  • providing a thorough review of inspection reports and teachable moments, which will help us consistently document our findings while conducting compliance inspections [Chapter 2, pages 22-23; Appendix A, pages 28 and 34]
  • documenting indoor/sheltered/outdoor housing, which will help us to more consistently identify the requirements for different types of animal housing [Chapter 3, page 13]
  • identifying all the types of inspections, which will make it easier to determine if the inspector conducted an inspection of the entire facility or just a particular area [Chapter 3, page 21].  

The Inspection Guide is a resource that aids our inspectors in their day-to-day work of making sure that entities regulated under the Animal Welfare Act are treating their animals humanely and adhering to all federal regulations and standards. The Inspection Guide improves the quality and consistency of our inspections, but it does not supersede the Animal Welfare Act or our associated regulations or policies, and it does not replace an inspector’s professional judgment. 

Of course, the Inspection Guide is not just for our internal purposes. We encourage our licensees and registrants to use it as a tool to maintain adherence to the regulations and standards, and we also see it as a way for our stakeholders to deepen their understanding of how the Animal Welfare Act is put into everyday practice.  

The Inspection Guide can be found here. This electronic version will continue to be the most up-to-date version because this is where we will make subsequent revisions. As always, we will notify you of future updates via stakeholder messages like this one.

Note:  If you have received this message second-hand and would like to sign up for our Animal Care messages directly, please visit our agency’s stakeholder registry, located here. It is free to register, and you can pick and choose that topics that most interest you.  


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