Safe and careful handling of animals in
transit on a commercial carrier is assured
through Animal Welfare Act regulations.
Through unannounced inspections, Animal Care
VMOs and ACIs enforce regulations related to
humane care and treatment of animals.
Animal Care inspectors ensure that handlers
and trainers meet professionally recognized
standards for experience and training.
Animal Care’s inspectors interact with licensees
and registrants on a regular basis to provide
education and ensure compliance.
The Federal Government plays a key role in
ensuring that animals covered under the
Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Horse Protection
Act (HPA) and used in regulated activities are
provided humane care and treatment. The Federal
responsibility for this important work rests with
the Animal Care (AC) program, which is part of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal
and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). As
USDA’s guardian of animal welfare, AC makes sure
that proper care is provided to most warmblooded
animals used in research or exhibition, sold as pets
at the wholesale level, or transported in commerce.
Under the HPA, AC works to prevent the practice of
“soring.” Soring is a procedure that entails applying
chemical or mechanical irritants to a horse’s pastern
to enhance its gait—a practice typically used on
certain gaited horses as a cruel shortcut to proper
AC in Brief
The AC program employs professionals with a range
of scientific, technical, and administrative skills to
accomplish its mission and facilitate enforcement
of the AWA and HPA. These professionals are
veterinarians, animal care inspectors, computer
specialists, program specialists, and other
administrative and program support personnel.
Enforcement of the AWA and HPA is accomplished by
field-based employees who are strategically located
throughout the 50 States and Territories. They are
either veterinary medical officers (VMOs) or animal
care inspectors (ACIs). Some specialize in the c