We're Asking USDA to Save Dogs and Cats from being Killed

Mike Ryan, March 20, 2019

As you know, the USDA has been conducting experiments on kittens in which they collect a stool sample, and then kill the cats. While that’s horrifying, that’s also the tip of the iceberg: In total, in 2017 over 78,000 dogs and cats suffered in medical experiments somewhere in the U.S.

15,000 of these dogs and cats in theory have a chance to get adopted instead of automatically euthanized at the end. That’s because as of March 2019, 9 U.S. states have laws on the books that obligate experimenters to make efforts to adopt out the animals.

While these laws are wonderful, the USDA needs to take a critical additional step to ensure these laws are followed.

That’s why today we teamed up with Advancing Law for Animals (ALA) in petitioning the USDA to issue 3 new regulations that, taken together, would ensure experimenters working in states with these laws follow them, and work to adopt instead of kill the dogs and cats they’re using.

Since 2014, nine U.S. states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island) have enacted laws requiring that dogs and cats are adopted instead of euthanized after they’re used in medical experiments. Legislators in eight additional states are working to enact similar laws. According to USDA data, in 2017, nearly 11,000 dogs and 3,600 cats combined were used in experiments that took place in these nine states.

The background on how our proposed regulation works couldn’t be simpler: Under current federal law, any medical experiment using animals in the U.S. has to be approved by a local committee called an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). If our proposed regulations are enacted, IACUCs and the experimenters seeking IACUC approval would need to consider whether these state laws might impact their work, and plan accordingly at the outset of the experiment to maximize adoption potential.

If you agree with us that experimenters need to plan post-research adoption at the outset of any experiment and not as an afterthought at the end, please consider supporting our work by donating to NEAVS.

Consider the perspective of John Gluck, who knows this issue well:

“As a former researcher who conducted experiments using animals, I fully agree with NEAVS and ALA that the regulatory change promoting adoptions is needed. This proposal will help encourage that researchers broaden their sense of responsibility to the animals in their research beyond humane disposal to promoting post experiment adoption and a continued meaningful life. Maintaining a compassionate professional identity requires practice” said John Gluck, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of New Mexico.”