New Maryland Law Mandates USDA Adopt Out Kittens

Mike Ryan, November 30, 2018

In case you missed it, earlier this year it was revealed that the USDA is killing 50-100 kittens every year in cruel and wasteful experiments taking place in Beltsville, MD.

The kittens are perfectly healthy and are being discarded like trash because the USDA deems them  unnecessary. In September we told USDA we’d be happy to take ownership of the kittens. Our plan is simple: We’ll give the kittens any medication some of them may need, and we’ll work with our network of rescues and shelters to ensure they’re adopted out.

Since then, something wonderful has happened.

Thanks to Maryland legislators Delegate Kramer and Senator Hough, as well as Governor Hogan, as of October 1, 2018 it is no longer legal for any entity doing medical experiments on cats or dogs to simply euthanize them after experiments.

Under this new Maryland law, as long as the animals are healthy, any research entity must try to adopt out the animals, and if that doesn’t work, then partner with a rescue group to ensure adoptions take place.

Yesterday we wrote USDA a letter informing them that this law applies to them, since there’s no federal law that conflicts with this new, wonderful law. The law is the “Humane Adoption of Companion Animals Used in Research Act of 2018.” It passed both chambers unanimously.

While it’s true that sometimes federal agencies don’t need to adhere to state laws, this is not one of those situations. The reason is that there is no federal law that conflicts with this law passed in Maryland. Moreover, the only statements made on this topic by the U.S. Congress have been to specifically encourage USDA to explore adoption.

To be clear, we think these tests should end immediately. But the absolute least USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) can do is to respect Maryland law and as such, accept our offer to take these kittens and place them in loving homes. It will save taxpayer dollars (sparing the cost of euthanasia and incineration), too.

We want to give USDA ARS Administrator Chavonda Jacobs-Young the benefit of the doubt and assume she’s working to set up an adoption process so that kittens aren’t being killed unnecessarily. But it’s been 2 months, and USDA hasn’t responded to our letter. We hope they’ll be in touch soon, and before the next round of cruel and wasteful euthanasia of 50-100 cats takes place.

Update February 2019: YOU DID IT! President Signs Bill Telling USDA to Stop Killing Kittens. Read More.