The ethical treatment of animals has long been a vital issue in the fight for animal rights. The animals that are used in various forms of experimentation and testing can face long-term suffering, mutilation or even death. Many times, shelter animals are sold and used for scientific research, commonly known as pound seizure. This is an extremely controversial topic within the animal experimentation industry that has created a deep public awareness, resulting in collaborative efforts aimed at ending this practice.
It is difficult to fathom that dogs and cats once living a humane existence are now confined to a
laboratory cage to be used as experimental devices for research and analysis. According to the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), as many as 115 million animals are experimented on and killed in laboratories in the U.S. every year. Animal experimentation is a multibillion-dollar industry fueled by massive public funding and involving a complex web of corporate, government, and university laboratories, cage and food manufacturers, and animal breeders, dealers, and transporters.
As the nation’s largest and most effective animal protection organization, the United Humane Society of the United States also works to “reduce suffering and create meaningful change for animals by advocating for sensible public policies, investigating cruelty and working to enforce existing laws, educating the public about animal issues, joining with corporations on behalf of animal-friendly policies, and conducting hands-on programs that make a more humane world.” Banning the use of pets for experimentation purposes is an important campaign for the HSUS.
“The Humane Society of the United States is opposed to the release of live animals for research,” says Kim Intino, director of shelter services of the HSUS.
“We have contacted government and local activists, worked with legislation to ban pound seizure and also support various animal shelters with this issue. It is a disturbing practice, since shelters are supposed to be safe and secure places for animals. This is a challenging and upsetting issue, but the HSUS makes constant efforts to find solutions.”
According to the HSUS research division, the primary aim is promoting alternatives to the use of animals in harmful research, testing, and education. Alternatives are scientific methods that accomplish one or more of the Three R's: Replace or Reduce the use of animals in a scientific procedure, and/or Refine a procedure so the animals experience less pain, suffering or discomfort.
There are currently five states that require shelter animals go to research facilities: Ohio, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Utah, and Iowa. Fifteen states have officially banned the release of shelter animals to research facilities and the remaining 30 states do not have any regulations set. While Michigan is one of those states that do not legally address the issue of pound seizure, efforts have been made to end this practice.
If passed, Michigan House Bill 4663 will eliminate pound seizure in Michigan animal shelters. The bill will not prevent legitimate medical research, but will put an end to shelter dogs and cats from being used. You can help by signing the petition: Stop Shelter Animals from being Sold for Research.
Because companion animals depend on humans for their safety and well-being, it is devastating that this dependency is betrayed when shelters allow pets to be taken by Class B Dealers for resale to research. When Class B dealers and research facilities can obtain cats and dogs from animal shelters, it diminishes the shelters' credibility and purpose, and betrays public trust.
“Class B dealers are brokers and middle men,” says Martin Stephens, Ph.D., vice president of animal research issues for the HSUS. “Animals are picked up from various locations; not only shelters, but flea markets, auctions, and even individual owners contact Class B dealers. The Class B dealers then take the animals to the designated research facility to receive compensation. “
The HSUS has been actively pursuing the ban of pound seizure for decades. “We have aided government efforts for years, lobbied for a federal ban, and also persuade research institutions to use other forms of experimentation besides cruel animal testing,” says Stephens.
Addressing the animal rights issues dealing with pound seizure, animal experimentation, and Class B dealers can help to put an end to the inhumane practices that threaten the lives of innocent animals through the U.S.
If you want to know the status on which states allow or ban pound seizure practice, view the USHS pound seizure laws map.