Bills Target Animal Dealers With “Sordid History”

Friday, October 23, 2009

Washington, D.C. -- Determined to provide better safeguards against companion animals being used in experiments Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) reintroduced the Pet Safety and Protection Act (S. 1834/H.R. 3907) to prohibit Class B dealers from selling dogs and cats to researchers.

By law, Class B dealers are supposed to acquire the animals they sell only from other dealers, pounds, and individuals who have bred and raised the animals themselves.  However, these dealers and their suppliers routinely flout the Animal Welfare Act, obtain animals through fraud, deception, and outright theft, and falsify their records. They keep the animals in horrendous conditions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture spends hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars each year unsuccessfully trying to regulate them and has acknowledged that it can’t guarantee that dogs and cats are not being illegally acquired for use in experimental procedures.

In reintroducing his bill, Rep. Doyle said, "Class B dealers have a long and sordid history of inhumane and illegal treatment of animals.  It’s long past time when the Class B dealer system should have been phased out - the recent National Academies study makes that clear beyond a shadow of a doubt."

In May 2009, the National Academy of Sciences released a report entitled "Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random Source Dogs and Cats in Research." At Congress' request, NAS assessed whether there is a scientific need for NIH grant recipients to purchase dogs and cats from B dealers. It found that animals with similar qualities are available from alternative sources. The report stated: "The Committee therefore determined Class B dealers are not necessary as providers of random source animals for NIH-related research."

"We must stop stray and stolen dogs and cats from being illegally sold to research facilities," said Senator Akaka. "This bill does not impair or impede research. It will end the fraudulent and unethical practices of certain dealers and the unnecessary suffering of dogs and cats in their care."

Animal Welfare Institute President Cathy Liss welcomed the bills' reintroduction. "Most researchers do not use Class B dealers to acquire dogs and cats, and it is time for the remainder who do to end their embarrassing association with these habitual violators of the law," Liss said.

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To take action on these and other important animal protection bills please visit AWI's Compassion Index at www.awionline.org/takeaction.

Media Contacts:
Cathy Liss, (202) 446-2121
Nancy Blaney, (202) 446-2141