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November 20, 2009

Research Proposal: Don't Buy Dogs, Cats from B Dealers

The HSUS looks forward to the end of animal research and testing. One day, innovation and science will make the use of animals obsolete, and I trust that any decent person will welcome the arrival of that day.

In the interim, The HSUS works to curb some of the most excessive abuses of animals for research and testing, including the use of chimpanzees in invasive research. In addition, we’ve long campaigned for the end of some particularly bad enablers of animal research—specifically, Class B animal dealers. The name may sound familiar, as I’ve written before about these middlemen for animal experimentation.

Cat in cage
iStockphoto

Class B dealers round up dogs and cats from “random sources,” including flea markets, animal shelters, and “bunchers” (who have been known to steal animals or respond fraudulently to free-to-good-home ads), then peddle the animals to research labs. This cottage industry has a record of more than 40 years of procuring dogs and cats from questionable sources and abusing them on their premises—all before these unfortunate animals go under the knife in research labs.

The system, however, is now on the brink of collapse. When demand for random source dogs and cats (a term for animals not specifically bred for research) was highest in the 1970s and ‘80s, there were approximately 200 Class B dealers. In the ‘90s, the number declined to approximately 100. Today, there are only nine in operation—with six of these under investigation for apparent violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act—plus one dealer sentenced to a 5-year license suspension. Whereas they once sold tens of thousands of dogs and cats to research each year, that number is down to fewer than 3,200.

The vast majority of research facilities now refuse to do business with these shady dealers, but propping up this dying industry are approximately 50 research institutions—mostly universities—that have been laggards in moving away from this disreputable class of animal dealers. This week, The HSUS called out every one of them. We identified them through painstaking analysis of transaction records in nearly a dozen states, coupled with surveys of the research facilities themselves. The HSUS is calling for them to stop patronizing Class B dealers.

If these universities won’t listen to us and our constituents, perhaps they’ll listen to the distinguished National Academy of Sciences, which earlier this year concluded that Class B dealers are unnecessary and that adequately regulating them is impossible. Even the American Physiological Society, which had historically been a prime defender of the Class B system, has now endorsed the Academy’s recommendations.

If the universities don’t do the right thing, we hope that Congress finally takes action, through passage of the Pet Safety and Protection Act (S. 1834/H.R. 3907). We applaud U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) for again leading the effort to eliminate the abuses these people spawn.

Take a look at the full list of universities in question and then please ask them to stop buying from Class B dealers. We’ve made it easy for you to contact them all in one step.

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