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From 6 November 2005 Issue

Pound Seizure: Betrayal Beyond Belief
American Anti Vivisection Society - aavs@aavs.org

Thousands of animals given up or lost appear in shelters every year in need of safety and proper care. However, in states that practice pound seizure, these animals may find themselves in a laboratory instead. Pound seizure is the sale or release of cats and dogs from a pound or shelter to a research, testing, or educational facility. The regulation regarding this practice varies from state to state.

In three states—Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Utah – it is required that publicly funded shelters and pounds sell dogs and/or cats to institutions for experimental or educational purposes. In states such as Ohio and Wisconsin a shelter does not even make surrendered companion animals available for adoption but must provide them directly to the institution upon request for the animals. Several states have no law either way regarding pound seizure, and often it is left to the discretion of local politicians.

In 1966, the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act, now known as the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was created to not only establish humane standards for the care and transport of animals used in laboratories but also to regulate dealers who sell animals to research institutions. In 1990, an amendment was added requiring shelters to hold animals for a minimum of five days before being sold to a research facility to allow the animal guardians time to claim their companions.

The AWA, enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), requires that animal dealers be classified as Class A or Class B dealers. Class A dealers are breeders, and Class B dealers may breed animals, but they also purchase and sell live or dead animals obtained from many sources, including pounds and shelters. Class B dealers are required to have proper documentation assuring legal acquisition and a minimum holding time of 10 days following an acquisition before animals can be sold to a research facility. Although violating these regulations could result in a fine, some will try to obtain animals illegally and falsify the necessary document to a laboratory.

By design, pound seizure distinguishes the credibility of shelters, which are thought to be safe havens for animals in need. Further, animals typically sold to dealers are docile and healthy, which would also make them prime candidates for adoption if afforded the opportunity. Considering that animals coming from a shelter were probably raised in a home, the confines of a laboratory can be taxing on the animal~ mental and physical states. Additionally, animals obtained from shelters have unknown genetic and medical histories which can have a significant impact on the outcome of a particular experiment.

To learn more and find out if pound seizure is practiced in your state, please visit www.banpoundseizure.org . If pound seizure is being practiced in your state, contact your local representatives about your opposition to this inhumane practice.

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