New York sends lifeline to lab animals

By on August 18, 2016 with 14 Comments

In The Humane Economy, I muse about the life of my dog Lily—a mixed breed whose beagle background yowls most prominently—before a rescue group pulled her from a rural shelter that had her on a euthanasia list. A veterinarian with Lost Dog and Cat Rescue said she was four or five when she came into our lives, and my wife Lisa and I often fret about the pain and even torments she experienced before we knew her, since her behavior signals those past traumas. For a variety of reasons, we expect she was a puppy mill dog, or a discarded hunting dog. But at times, we even wonder if she may have come out of a laboratory, since beagles are frequently used in experiments because they are so trusting and docile.

That’s one reason why I am especially happy to celebrate Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signing of legislation in New York to require publicly-funded institutions of higher education to give dogs and cats used in biomedical research and testing a second chance and a chance at adoption into forever homes. It’s great news for hundreds of dogs and cats in state-funded institutions in New York. Rather than discarding these creatures, and burying the evidence if you will, New York has made it possible that they can now know love and affection and a human pack that really cares for them.

In a remarkable coincidence, Governor Cuomo put his signature on The Research Animal Retirement Act nearly fifty years to the day that President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the federal Laboratory Animal Welfare Act (now the Animal Welfare Act), which was motivated by a similar concern for the welfare of dogs. The Research Animal Retirement Act, championed by primary sponsor, State Senator Philip M. Boyle (R- Bay Shore) and Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) requires that dogs and cats be offered for adoption through private placement or non-profit animal rescue and shelter organizations when their time in research has come to an end.

New York is among a growing number of states passing similar legislation, including California, Connecticut, Minnesota, and Nevada. Such legislation solidifies a growing trend, as more and more research facilities across the United States have voluntarily instituted successful adoption programs for dogs, cats, and other animals.

The development of good relationships between research institutions and rescue organizations has enabled this kind of progress. That’s why it’s sad to contemplate that similar bills in Illinois and Maryland faced stiff opposition from the research community and failed to pass. Laws like this affirm and ensure that the authority to determine when a dog or cat is no longer needed for scientific research rests with the research institutions. They do not affect the way that research is conducted. But they do offer an alternative solution to the only one outlined in federal law—euthanasia. Why shouldn’t these animals be given a chance to become part of a family instead of being killed once their time in the laboratory ends?

The use of dogs in research has substantially declined since the 1960s when the Animal Welfare Act passed, a time when some two million dogs a year passed through our nation’s laboratories, almost none of them coming out alive. In 2014, according to USDA data, the number of dogs used in US laboratories stood at 65,153 (a decline of almost 12 percent from the prior year). At the same time, fewer and fewer institutions purchase dogs from random source Class B dealers, not least because, in October 2014, the National Institutes of Health stopped funding research involving dogs procured from Class B dealers.

Fifty years since the nation’s policy-makers first turned their attention to the plight of dogs and other animals in laboratories, we’re on the threshold of even greater opportunities to spare animals from any risk of harm in laboratory usage. We’re pushing toward that goal with all we’ve got. In the meantime, a measure like this one, so easy to implement, does the animals real good, and makes us a little better as well.

Categories
Animal Research and Testing, Companion Animals

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14 Comments

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  1. Jessica Hausman says:

    So very incredible to hear of this, hope it can be enacted in every state of the Union!

  2. Maria González Herrero says:

    ¡Es cruel y criminal nuestro comportamiento para con los animalitos.!

  3. J. Porowski says:

    It’s a shame that animals are still used in experiments. There has to be a better way.

  4. KEITH SKLAR says:

    This is obviously fantastic and I have been a supporter of this throughout the process but why isn’t beagle freedom project mentioned? It was their bill…

  5. Eric Patterson says:

    This is very good news. But dogs and cats should not be used in ANY research, except that which is directed toward curing illnesses which occur among dogs and cats, and then only if the research is not dangerous to their lives. Dogs and cats are companion animals, and should not be exploited in research. Dogs, in particular, have co-evolved with human beings for many thousands of years, have been essential to human development, and are pack animals who deserve to be part of a loving human family. I hope that ending the exploitation of dogs and cats in research will be a goal for further reform. Animals of all kinds should be protected from unnecessary laboratory research, and alternative methods found wherever possible. Thank you for all you do to help animals.

  6. Doreen Rasanen says:

    IT IS NOT RIGHT TO USE A LIVING BEING WHO CANNOT SPEAK
    FOR HERSELF OR HIMSELF IN ANY SHAPE OR FORM. IT IS RIGHT
    THAT WE HUMANS LOWER OUR MASS HUMAN POPULATION THRU
    BIRTH CONTROL, LEARN TO RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT, AND
    TREAT ANIMALS JUST AS WE WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED..WITH
    KINDNESS AND RESPECT, AND HELP WHEN NEEDED. PEOPLE HAVE
    BEEN SUBJECTING ANIMALS TO HORRIFIC PAIN AND SUFFERING
    FOR THE SAKE OF HUMANS WHO DESTROY THE PLANET AND HAVE LITTLE OR NO RESPECT FOR OUR OTHER LIVING BEINGS.
    STOP USING ANIMALS….USE HUMAN CRIMINALS INSTEAD.

    • Eli says:

      Fantastic post…until you said “use criminals instead”.

      I think it’s important to remember that criminals are living, breathing creatures also. Imprisonment is the more common/usual mandated sentence for those convicted of breaking the laws of our land. Sometimes, the death penalty.
      I could no more abuse, torture, humiliate, with hold food or water, or mistreat a criminal human, anymore than I could mistreat any other living creature. But that’s just me…

  7. Carol Barto says:

    I think there are enough men and woman on death row that could be used instead of helpless animals. Pay back for us for their room and board

  8. Carol Barto says:

    Instead of helpless animals use death tow prisoners. Pay back for th eir room and board. As for spearing inocent animals? Let th be hunted and feel the pain
    They deserve to die in pain and alone a slow death

    • Eli says:

      Carol! You cannot be serious? And you’re here, on a site concerned with animal welfare. We humans are animals too, you know.
      Ugh. Could have gone a century without seeing that post. Do you really mean that???

  9. Patricia Harlow says:

    HSUS’, last line in an e-maiI, thanked me for all I am doing for the animals. I thought I’d tell you all I’m doing for animals: I have written : “Rock With Rodney & Party With Perky to A World of Evermore”, during, and after 9-11-01. The attack on the World Trade Center affected the whole world; us & 40 other countries. It explains of the horrific day, but it also explains about the distraught animals trapped, scared, smoke filled, alone at ground zero. The characters plan a fund raiser for NYC clean up help, and also to fund these animals’ rescue, and veterinary bills… I wrote it in 2001, however Its published, now through: BookVenture.com/bookstore. or call: 1-877-276-9751 Also check out:”Rock With Rodney & Party With Perky to Preserve Wildlife 4 & 5″, which speaks of anti-environmental actions that have happened, is happening, and will happen to our Environment; Air, Land, & Water surrounding, unless action to open eyes, everywhere happens.. No more denial! Also speaks of more & more endangered species.drawing closer to extinction, because they’er losing their habitats. Please, post them, and share sales. I look forward to hearing from U. Thank you, Patty Harlow

  10. Heloisa says:

    It is a wonderful news, but how long are we talking before these pure creatures can be adopted? I am just hear broken to the thought and wondering how long is that? Can we not fight to ban any use of any living animal in labs? It is so painful to think of what they go through imagine what it is for them. It is a great victory, but can we continue to fight for the lives of these blessed beings?

  11. Kayla Howe says:

    This is such wonderful news. HSUS has such a keen understanding of how little steps lead to big outcomes. I’m glad progress is being made in this industry and also glad that I can learn about these things through this great blog. Thanks Wayne and HSUS for your good work!

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