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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 24 June 2003 Issue

By Judith Marie Gansen

Let's Torture the Homeless

Imagine you are a homeless and lost child who lost her voice and hearing because of a medical condition so you cannot communicate with anyone.  Due to unforeseen circumstances you haven't even got the basic comforts all animals need--food, water and a home.  Suddenly, a van pulls up.  A man jumps out and using a snare you are grabbed around the neck and the noose is tightened.  Unable to communicate you fight for air as you struggle to free yourself wondering why someone is kidnapping you from the temporary comfort you have found.  You are thrown into the van, taken away and put into a cage.  They give you food and water but you are terrified and sometimes lash out at them when they come close.  What do these people want of you?  There are others of your kind also in cages along the wall.  Some shiver in terror, some cry out and some stare blankly.  Some fight with each other due to the severe stress they are under.  Some of those like you may have been abused by ignorant people on top of being homeless.

After a short time, a man comes you have never seen before.  He walks up and down looking at all of you in the cages.  He points to some.  You are herded into another vehicle and driven away.  Another cage.  More terror.  Everything is new and frightening and you can't communicate with them at all to let them know.  Your instincts kick in and you know not to appear weak so you cover up if you are in pain so they don't know about it to prevent them from attacking you.  Maybe they wouldn't  care if you were hurting anyway.

Finally another vehicle and another transport--where to this time?  Strange sights fill your eyes.  You shake uncontrollably in fear.  Being in a cage is not normal for you--where are the trees and the grass and the closeness of your own kind?  Where is the fresh air and the blue sky?  How can you escape?  You try but you fail.  You are helpless.  You try to fight but they are stronger.  They are bigger.  They have strange things they use on you.  You hear the cries of your brethren and know they are in pain and scared.  Something horrible must be happening to them.  You finally give up in hopelessness.  They have won.  Now comes the "experiments."  You wish for death.  Finally death comes but not before the pain that will never end. 

IF WE DON'T DO THIS TO HOMELESS CHILDREN AND ADULTS, THEN WHY DO WE DO THIS TO HOMELESS DOGS AND CATS ALL OVER THE US???  It's called "pound seizure."  The practice of selling homeless and terrified dogs and cats to animal dealers for resale.  The animal dealers purchase the animals and then "condition" them and they generally end up in research labs.  Animal dealers can be the legal or illegal kind and even some of the "legal" ones have gotten into trouble for breaking the law at times--this is a matter of public record.  The argument made is if we don't use those animals then we have to grow more and then two animals die.  We have to cure diseases don't we?  We have to test new products don't we?  We have to be able to teach veterinary students don't we?  We matter more than they do, don't we?

I recently became involved in trying to stop pound seizure in a community near where I live.  Ignorance was rampant as people thought that stopping pound seizure would stop research when the truth is many states on the East coast have made pound seizure illegal, yet they continue to use animals in biotechnology--it simply had no effect (contact Animal People for further info).  At the commission meeting, one elderly, handicapped woman struggled to the podium and expressed her fears that one of her cats would get loose and she would not be able to get to the pound in time before they were sold to research.  Her handicap made it difficult for her to grab her cats when the door was opened.  Her cats were all she had in her life and my heart broke for her.  Why are the rights of the animal dealers given preference over this poor elderly woman?  In many counties animals are sold to the dealers cheaper than they are to rescues which means less revenue for the counties as well.  In some cases they are even violating the law by taking shelter animals. How did they get this cozy arrangement?  The National Animal Control Association's own policy statement says it is against pound seizure so many of these shelters are opposing their own national agency's policy!
   or  Pound Seizure

According to the book The Animal Dealers* (P. 216) breeds most often wanted by animal dealers are: Hounds, Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds and Dalmatians as well as mixes -- but any medium to large size dog is valuable in the commercial trade.  It is vital that any of the above breed rescues be aware of this sad fact so they stay alert to anyone misrepresenting themselves as a potential dog adopter.  On the same page it states:  "Theft of companion animals will continue as long as USDA continues licensing random source dealers and research facilities continue buying from them."

People are also less likely to drop off unwanted animals at a shelter where they know pound seizure is done.  This increases the cost to the county due to the likelihood of the animal causing problems for law enforcement and/or animal control--our country needs all the law enforcement we have to watch for terrorism now.

Science's Thinking

One thing that frightens me about some scientists is that you can be blessed with a very high IQ but that doesn't necessarily mean you have the ability to use your brain efficiently and reason things out.  Sometimes this means you "follow the crowd" of scientists before you because they were all intelligent people and couldn't possibly have been wrong. 

In this month's Discover Magazine, (July 2003) there is a wonderful article by Barry Yeoman entitled "Can We Trust Research Done With Lab Mice?"  Hanno Wurbel, a very intelligent as well as THINKING researcher who teaches animal behavior and welfare at the University of Giessen in Germany and does research at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology near Zurich has done over a decade of research on this issue studying the behavior of mice after the researchers went home.  The article states "he has reached a disturbing conclusion: Much of the research that relies on animals could be using brain-damaged subjects, jeopardizing the validity of the data it produces.  This could mean that disease modeling, pharmaceutical research and tests of chemical toxicity are tainted."  Wow, and from a respected science magazine like Discover--thank you for this wonderful article!  Imagine the waste of much needed research money not to mention the suffering and death of innocent lives both animal and human because everyone may have been following the beliefs of the scientists before them.

I highly recommend everyone get this magazine--let's sell it out so they write more articles like it!  Buy one for a friend and for your library and for your school!  Animal advocates have been preaching this for years--it's not a normal environment for any living thing to live in a cage.  At the very least it is stressful and we all know stress affects our bodies.  If a researcher put a human in a cage and said "now I just need to keep you in here for a while for the experiment" it would cause us stress and we can communicate with a researcher while the animals can't and don't understand what is happening to them.  God didn't invent cages and torture--people did.

One Important Difference

What then of the future?  I have been asked this before--do you want your Fluffy or Tigger to be a "guinea pig" for medicine or some other lab purpose?  Well, it seems to me that the logical thing to remember is ultimately any species whether dog, cat, horse, human, etc., that needs any medicine or procedure has to be a "guinea pig" eventually.  Every new medicine tried on animals must be tested on humans anyway before being put on the market.  Any new medication tested for dogs on lab dogs must later be a new medication tried on your own dog.  When you take a homeless animal who has no human guardian to watch out for it, who has suffered so much already and use it in a lab experiment that to me is morally and ethically wrong to begin with.  It is logical that labs want animals who have no guardians because who will fight on behalf of the animal when there is no human to speak for the animal should something go wrong or question whether the procedure needs to be done to begin with?  It makes things a lot easier for those researchers, doesn't it?

The huge difference is that when a new procedure is tried on a human or companion animal who has a human to speak for it, there is simply more culpability.  The people trying the new procedure or medication are going to be more responsible and careful because they know there are consequences if they are not responsible.  Someone with a voice is watching out for that animal--everything from complaints to lawsuits can and do happen.  This is simply not the case with lab animals who are throwaway "things" who are homeless.  It is true there have been some improvements in labs--largely because of animal advocates speaking out.  But something that really shows contempt for our intelligence is lately if you see a lab animal with a researcher on TV they will be carefully holding the animal and petting it--gosh, isn't that sweet?  They even pet them!!!!  Off-camera most of us would prefer to not know what is being done to them.


It has happened before that homeless animals brought into pounds have been sold to dealers before their owners could reclaim them.  What if you are away on vacation and your dogsitter loses the dog?  Even if you take superior care of your animals--do all the right things like collars, ID tags, tattoo on the stomach or thigh (personal choice as some say irreputable dealers will kill a dog with a tattoo), microchip and always watch them, accidents happen.  One employee of a humane society told me she was always cautious, but gave her dog a bath one day and her husband came home sick and opened the front door.  The dog ran out never to be found again. 

To me the future will shine bright through the people working on alternatives to animals in labs.  Volunteers will bring their dogs and cats into a university to donate their blood so shelter animals will not be used.  Forward-thinking doctors and scientists will some day say "how do we accomplish this on humans?--then let's do it the same way for animals because they matter too and each one of their lives matter even though they may be homeless."  Whether the homeless being is a person or animal, they must have our respect to be treated with a conscience.  Without that respect, they are a disposable and cheap commodity--like disposable plastic gloves.  The very nature of the way the system is now set up causes so much suffering, pain and death that it must be changed--for all those innocent lives whose only crime is to be homeless!!!'

Suggested books:

Sacred Cows and Golden Geese--The Human Cost of Experiments on Animals--foreward by Jane Goodall-C. Ray Greek, M.D. and Jean Swingle Greek, DVM

The Animal Dealers-Evidence of Animals in the Commercial Trade 1952-1997, Animal Welfare Institute  - Edited by Mary Ellen Drayer

Animal Experimentation-A Harvest of Shame - Moneim A. Fadali, M.D.

Additional Info:


Doctors Against Dog Labs:


Staff:  Animals in Print 
(free online animal publication)

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