Sunshine Law and FOIA requests

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

It’s a simple matter to check breeder inspections at the USDA since the agency provides a database of inspection reports for the last three years. The Department of Agriculture (MDA), however, does not make records easily accessible.

To access inspection records for a commercial dog breeder in Missouri, you have to make the request under the Sunshine Law act. You will be charged for copies and time, so you’ll want to restrict your requests to recent inspections only—2009 or later. As an indicator of costs, I was charged $5.60 for my request for recent inspection records for Rabbit Ridge.

An example email you can use for submitting a request for inspection records is the following:


This is a request for records under the Missouri Sunshine Law, Chapter 610, Revised Statutes of Missouri.

I request that you make available to me the following records:

Recent Missouri Department of Agriculture inspection reports (January 1, 2009 and later) for a commercial dog breeder, <breeder name>, operating a kennel known as <kennel name, if there is one>, with an address of <as much of the address as you know>.

I request that the records responsive to my request be copied and sent to me at the following address:

Emailed to me directly, if digital copies of the inspection reports exist, or if this would be convenient for your organization.

If email is not convenient, then mail paper records to:

<your address>

I request that all fees for locating and copying the records be waived. The information I obtain through this request will be used <request purpose>

Please let me know in advance of any search or copying if the fees will exceed <your upper fee amount>.

If portions of the requested records are closed, please segregate the closed portions and provide me with the rest of the records.

Thank you.

<your name>

The requests are sent to You can read more about the Sunshine Law at the Missouri Sunshine Law Summary page.

If you want information from the USDA outside of that already provided at the USDA web sites, you can file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the appropriate department. APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services) is the department you’re most likely going to send the FOIA requests to. There are actually FOIA generation tools, and the USDA FOIA site provides helpful materials, as does the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Before you file a FOIA request, though, check out the USDA APHIS FOIA Reading Room, first, to ensure what you’re after isn’t already provided. You can access the USDA APHIA Inspection database, directly.

FOIA requests for the USDA APHIS should be sent to You may also be charged a fee for a FOIA request.

Both the MDA and the USDA have to respond within a set period of time. MDA must respond within three business days. The USDA typically tries to respond within twenty business days—at a minimum, acknowledging your request.

Note that FOIA requests to the USDA APHIS also become part of public record, and are published in an annual log.

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