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November 17, 2009

Dogs, Cats Used in Experiments

The HSUS Urges Institutions to Stop Purchasing ‘Random-Source’ Dogs and Cats for Experimentation

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States is urging 50 research institutions to stop purchasing dogs and cats from "Class B" dealers. The dealers are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to round up dogs and cats from animal shelters, individuals and other "random sources" and then sell them for experimentation. The HSUS released a study identifying the institutions that still purchase from these dealers and support this dying industry.

A National Academy of Sciences report issued earlier this year concluded that Class B dealers are problematic and no longer necessary for supplying dogs and cats. In the wake of this report, The HSUS gathered information that identified 57 research institutions that purchased random source dogs or cats from Class B dealers within the past four years.

The information came from HSUS surveys of the institutions and Freedom of Information Act requests submitted to the institutions and state agriculture departments. (In some cases these records were unavailable or prohibitively expensive, so there may be other research institutions that still purchase random source dogs and cats from Class B dealers.) The HSUS then contacted each of the institutions.

The survey suggests that research facilities are re-evaluating their use of Class B dealers. Officials from seven institutions indicated that they no longer purchase random source dogs or cats from Class B dealers. Five facilities reported they still do (or reserve the right to) purchase these animals, and the remaining 45 institutions did not provide any new information, raising the possibility that they still buy animals from the dealers but do not want to admit the practice.

"The Humane Society of the United States applauds those research facilities that have switched to more reputable sources and stopped purchasing random source dogs or cats from Class B dealers," said Martin Stephens, Ph.D., HSUS vice president for animal research issues. "We urge facilities that still patronize these dealers for random source dogs and cats to abandon this practice immediately, to make sure stolen pets and fraudulently obtained animals don't end up in the pipeline."

The following institutions indicated that they still purchase random source dogs and cats from Class B dealers: Aurora Sinai Medical Center (Milwaukee); Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (Maywood, Ill.); Masonic Medical Research Laboratory (Utica, N.Y.); Medical College of Georgia (Augusta, Ga.); and University of Georgia (Athens, Ga.). The HSUS appreciates their honesty and urges them to discontinue this practice.

The HSUS applauded the institutions that have recently discontinued the practice, according to the survey, include the Carolinas Medical Center (Charlotte, N.C.); Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland); Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital (Hines, Ill.); Baylor College of Dentistry (Dallas); University of Florida (Gainesville, Fla.), University of Illinois at Chicago and The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (Oklahoma City).

The institutions that purchased from Class B dealers in the past but declined to respond to the HSUS survey are listed here, along with the institutions that indicated they still buy from Class B dealers.

The Class B dealer system 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 dealers of random source animals, including buying animals 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.

Most research institutions are already operating successfully without buying Class B dealer dogs and cats. These institutions recognize the long-standing animal welfare concerns associated with the B dealer pipeline, the public ill-will generated by continued business dealings with these middlemen and the inherent problems with conducting research on random-source animals. They choose instead to procure animals purposely bred for research, rather than from random sources.

Facts

  • More than 1,400 research institutions are registered with the USDA to conduct research on dog, cats and other regulated animals.
  • About 500 research institutions use dogs and cats, including animals obtained from Class B dealers.
  • 94,724 dogs and cats were used in research during FY 2007.
  • From November 2007 – November 2008, Class B dealers sold about 3,000 random source dogs and cats to research facilities.
  • Only 11 dealers of random source dogs and cats remain in business. Of these, seven are currently under investigation by the USDA for apparent violations of the AWA, and one dealer's license has been suspended for 5 years.
  • Because of the problems with Class B dealers, the USDA spends a disproportionate amount of time and resources trying to track their activities, but the agency's oversight system is inherently incapable of ensuring compliance.

Timeline

  • October 2009: U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., introduce the Pet Safety and Protection Act to put an end to the practice of animal dealers rounding up dogs and cats and selling them for experimentation.
  • May 2009: The National Academy of Sciences releases report, "Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random Source Dogs and Cats in Research," finding that Class B dealers are not necessary for research institutions to obtain random source dogs and cats and that "testimony provided to the Committee by USDA officials made it clear that despite new enforcement guidelines and intensified inspection efforts, not all origins of animals are or can be traced. The USDA simply cannot assure that stolen or lost pets will not enter research laboratories via the Class B dealer system."
  • 2007: An HSUS and Animal Welfare Institute survey of about 1,200 USDA-registered research institutions indicates that 96 percent of the 192 respondents do not purchase random source dogs and cats from Class B dealers. According to a survey by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, at least 19 of the nation's 28 veterinary schools do not use live, random source dogs and cats from Class B dealers. 

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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