Friday, November 20, 2009

Animal Shelters Send Pets to Research Facilities

I received the following information from a fellow rescuer:

By Jennifer Vegas | Mon Nov 16 2009

As a former animal shelter worker, I was horrified to learn that five U.S. States require shelters to send animals that aren't adopted to research facilities.

The states are:
*If a research facility makes a request

The Humane Society found that 30 other states also either permit shelters to surrender animals for research under certain circumstances, or have no laws concerning the matter, meaning shelters can make the decision on their own.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been reporting on this, and the matter was recently also covered by Utah's desert News after PETA launched an investigation on University of Utah test animals.

Aside from the lab work itself, money is the driving force.

So how much is the life of a dog or cat worth in such transactions?

Utah has an "experimental animals code" that permits shelters to charge researchers a minimum of

$15 per cat
$20 per dog

Animal rights activists in the affected states are concerned, but say it would be difficult to enforce bans, and some facilities aren't even funded by the states, so they aren't subject to certain laws.

The reality is that, with or without the testing, many shelter animals are killed. But, as Martin Stephens, vice president of Animal Research Issues for the Humane Society of the U.S., points out, the animals at least deserve to die without prolonged suffering.

PETA has started a letter writing campaign directed toward ending animal suffering at University of Utah labs. You can also support PETA's work in stopping the abuse and suffering of animals used for testing.

Although it can take a decade or more to change laws, I also hope that concerned individuals in the previously five mentioned states, along with the gray area 30, will rally together to pass legislation that will prohibit animal shelters from providing animals for research. Fifteen states already have such bans:

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Rhode Island
South Carolina
West Virginia

To help ease the overall problem, I also urge you to:
  • Have indoor-only pets.
  • Always keep your dog on a leash when it is out on the street.
  • Microchip your pets. If they become lost and wind up at a shelter, staff there can then easily ID them.
  • Spay and neuter all pets.

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