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Pound seizure is the sale or release of dogs and/or cats from a pound or shelter to a research, testing, or educational facility.
It is hard to imagine that dogs and cats are still being used as expendable tools in lethal experiments; harder still, that some of these animals were once accustomed to life in a human home, and are now confined in a laboratory cage.
One state in the U.S. — Oklahoma — still legally requires publicly funded shelters and pounds to provide dogs and/or cats to institutions for experimental or educational purposes. While several states have passed laws banning pound seizure, other states allow it, and most states have no law either way, leaving the matter to local jurisdiction.
This horrible practice is a small, but troubling facet of the animal experimentation industry.
Why are Animals from Shelters Used in Science?
The laboratory use of animals from shelters has been a controversial issue since the late 1800s.
As the biomedical research field grew, and the belief that the use of animals was essential for the progress of modern medicine and the production of commercial goods became the norm, scientists sought out greater numbers of animals to use in research, testing, and education. They found pounds and shelters to be a cheap source of “surplus” animals, who were, in their minds, expendable since many animals faced euthanization. They overlooked the fact that the same traits that make animals desirable research subjects (good health, low aggression, etc.) also make them more adoptable and, therefore, more likely to transition out of a shelter and into a new home as a companion animal.
In addition, animals obtained from pounds or shelters have unknown genetic backgrounds and medical histories, making experimental controls virtually impossible. There are many other ethical and scientific reasons to change our laws and policies to disallow the practice of pound seizure, and AAVS is working to do just that.
What Will Put and End to Pound Seizure?
Currently, 18 states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting the release of shelter animals to labs or random-source Class B animal dealers. Of the remaining 32 states, some leave this matter to the discretion of municipalities, while one, Oklahoma, requires that animals be relinquished.
In order to ensure the safety and well being of dogs and cats, laws requiring the release of animals to labs need to be changed, and new, prohibitive laws need to be passed in every state.