Bill Takes Aim at Animal Dealers with "Atrocious Record of Illegal Activity"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Washington, D.C. -- The Animal Welfare Institute is pleased to report that Reps. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) - in an effort to protect companion animals from illegal use in laboratory experiments - today reintroduced, H.R. 2256, the Pet Safety and Protection Act. This bill would prohibit notoriously shady 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 (called "bunchers") 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. Five of the eight dealers currently in operation are under investigation by the USDA, with one of them having recently been indicted on a number of federal charges, including identity theft. Another one who has been under investigation turned in his license though the case against him is still pending, and a third is halfway through a five-year suspension.

"Class B dealers have racked up an atrocious record of illegal activity and cruelty to animals," Congressman Doyle said today in reintroducing the bill. "Allowing this failed program to continue is simply unacceptable. That's why we're re-introducing the Pet Safety and Protection Act -- to shut down the Class B dealer disaster once and for all."

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 the request of Congress, 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." In response to this report and continued Congressional concern, NIH is now phasing out the use of these dealers by its grant recipients.

The Pet Safety and Protection Act is essential to ensuring that there is a permanent end to this abuse-ridden pipeline. "Class B dealers have routinely failed to meet basic Animal Welfare Act Standards and there is no sign they will ever improve," remarked Congressman Smith. "Reputable research institutes do not use Class B dealers because of the serious problems associated with them and their troubled past. Closing them down once and for all will give people greater confidence in our research programs and go a long way toward reducing animal cruelty."

Animal Welfare Institute President Cathy Liss welcomed the bill's 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."

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