Individuals who obtain dogs and cats from pounds, auctions, or individuals like private breeders and hunters and then sell them to laboratories are classified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as random source Class B dealers. These types of dealers have long been considered controversial, and in fact, the Animal Welfare Act was originally created to regulate such dealers, requiring them to keep records of where the animals they sold came from to help prevent lost and stolen pets from being sold to labs. While all animal dealers are regulated by the USDA and subject to inspections, random source dealers are particularly draining on the agency’s resources. Due to their history of repeatedly violating the AWA, random source Class B dealers are inspected four times a year, compared to others that are inspected once every one to three years.
Acting Outside the Law
While there were hundreds of random source Class B dealers operating across the U.S. in the 1970s, today there are just five. Nonetheless, these random source dealers continue to violate the law. For example, in 2011, Pennsylvania Class B dealers Floyd and Susan Martin, were indicted on charges of conspiracy, aggravated identity theft, mail fraud, and making false statements to a government agency in connection to charges of illegally acquiring animals. The Martins pleaded guilty, and were required to pay $300,000 in restitution and Mr. Martin served six months in jail. In July 2012, USDA filed a complaint against James Woudenberg, a Michigan random Class B dealer, for “willfully” violating the AWA by illegally acquiring several dogs and a cat. Although USDA lost this case, the agency is appealing the decision. In September 2013, USDA filed a complaint against Class B dealer Kenneth Schroeder for illegally acquiring several dogs, failing to provide proper living environments, and not allowing inspectors access to his facility. USDA and Schroeder came a settlement agreement and his random source dealer license was revoked.
What Does the Research Community Say?
Due to the growing controversy surrounding random source Class B dealers, Congress urged the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to commission a study to determine whether or not random source Class B dealers are needed to supply dogs and cats to research. The findings were reported in May 2009 and concluded that “it’s not necessary to obtain random source dogs and cats for NIH research from Class B dealers.” In February 2012, NIH stopped funding research studies using cats from random sources and did the same for dogs in October 2014.
Dying to Learn
Colleges and universities also sometimes acquire dogs and cats through random source Class B dealers. For example, in November 2013, an undercover investigation revealed that Georgia Regents University used dogs purchased from random source Class B dealer, Kenneth Schroeder, in painful dental research. Perhaps not so coincidently, Schroeder was shut down in December 2013.
AAVS’s education department, Animalearn, published a report entitled “Dying to Learn: Exposing the Supply and Use of Dogs and Cats in Higher Education.” Animalearn’s report outlines how random source animals are used in education and the alternatives that can replace this use.