AAVS Commends the National Academy of Sciences

For Finding that Random Source Animals from Class B Dealers are Not Necessary for NIH Related Research

June 1, 2009

The American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) is pleased with today’s recommendation by the National Academies Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR) Committee on Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random Source Dogs and Cats for Research, _which concluded that random source animals from Class B dealers are not necessary for NIH related research. Such dealers buy or otherwise obtain animals from random sources such as pounds, shelters, auctions, and private citizens and resell the animals to research, testing, and teaching laboratories. The Committee notes a diminishing trend in the use of random source animals obtained from Class B dealers by the research community overall. According to its report, in 2002, twenty percent of cats and dogs used in research were obtained from Class B dealers, and by 2008, only three percent of cats and dogs used in research were from Class B dealers.

Many of the animals sold by random source Class B dealers once were pets, and according to the Committee, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency that regulates random source Class B animal dealers, “cannot assure that lost or stolen pets will not enter research laboratories via the Class B dealer system.”

AAVS is extremely disappointed, however, that the Committee fell short of recommending entirely against the use of random source animals, including former pets, in NIH research. The Committee suggests that if the use of random source animals is deemed necessary, one option is that NIH research laboratories actually go directly to animal pounds and shelters to acquire cats and dogs for experiments—a process known as pound seizure. The Committee also emphasizes that the pounds most likely to provide animals to research laboratories are those that are poor, overcrowded with animals, have weak adoption programs, and/or in one of the three states that still require pound seizure (e.g. Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Utah).

However, pound seizure should not be considered a solution to the cat and dog overpopulation problem, and federal research laboratories should not prey upon weak shelters and pounds. A shelter/pound that releases animals directly to research facilities will lose the public’s trust, and this could decrease the number of animals brought to the shelter/pound, and increase the number of abandoned animals.

Furthermore, concerns about the use of animals from random source dealers are nearly identical to those related to pound seizure: the use of lost pets; unknown medical histories and temperaments; and lack of government standards of housing and care. AAVS encourages Congress to eliminate Class B dealers and to address the public’s concerns about former pets ending up in research by prohibiting the provision of random source animals for research.

Regrettably, the Committee’s report also failed to consider or describe other means of scientific studies that do not involve the invasive or harmful use of cats and dogs. Such alternative methods are receiving increasing attention from NIH, other federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, and private industries such as biotech, but ILAR missed an opportunity to endorse continued development of those methods.

AAVS’s educational division, Animalearn, recently released a report, ‘Dying to Learn: Exposing the supply and use of dogs and cats in higher Education’, and a significant portion of the report describes problems related to the acquisition of animals from various animal dealers and through pound seizure. To view and download the report, visit www.DyingToLearn.org.

The American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) is the first non-profit animal advocacy and educational organization in the United States dedicated to ending the use of animals in research, testing, and education. Founded in Philadelphia in 1883, AAVS pursues its objectives through legal and effective advocacy, education, and support of the development of non-animal alternative methods.