December 15, 2010
Cats, Dogs Still in Danger at Hands of Animal Dealers
Government report finds Class B dealers not adequately regulated
Stolen dogs and cats sold to research institutions could go undetected under the current system.
That’s a key finding of a recent report analyzing the oversight of Class B dealers, middlemen who round up dogs and cats from “random sources,” including animal shelters and other—sometimes questionable—places, and sell the animals to research laboratories for use in experiments.
Each year, Class B dealers, who are licensed by The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), sell thousands of dogs and cats to research institutions, including universities and hospitals.
The report, which focuses on an audit conducted between June 2009 and September 2010, includes a number of shocking findings:
- Approximately 29 percent of tracebacks—the process by which the USDA tries to verify that a dog or cat was not stolen—were either unsuccessful or were not completed by the required deadline.
- Numerous violations have been documented during inspections of Class B dealer facilities, including poor condition of animal housing and inadequate veterinary care.
- Seven of the nine licensed Class B dealers had one or more violations.
- As of July 2010, several Class B dealers were under further investigation by the USDA because of repeated violations.
The report was requested by the Senate and House Agriculture Committees in 2009 and issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in September.
The Class B dealer system is tainted by 40 years of scandal and is rife with abuse of dogs and cats.
USDA inspectors and undercover investigators from animal protection organizations have documented a long history of illegal and inhumane activity by Class B dealers, including buying cats and dogs from "bunchers" (unlicensed dealers) who steal pets and deceptively respond to "free to a good home" ads, as well as mistreating animals at their own holding facilities before transporting them to laboratories.
In recent years, Class B dealers have fallen under increased scrutiny. In May 2009, the prestigious National Academy of Sciences concluded that the system was "problematic and unnecessary."
Animal lovers can help put an end to these dirty dealings by telling universities and other research institutions to stop buying dogs and cats from Class B dealers and urging members of Congress to co-sponsor the Pet Safety and Protection Act, which would put Class B dealers out of business.