How Animals End Up In Laboratories

Companion Animals

Many dogs and cats used in laboratory experiments come from companies that breed animals for research purposes. Others were once trusting companions who simply got lost-or stolen-from their families.

Pound Seizure

Animal shelters in certain states are required to turn over homeless dogs to government-run facilities for medical experiments if they are not claimed by former or new guardians within five days of arriving at the shelter. This is commonly known as pound seizure. Three states require pound seizure of government-run facilities: Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Utah. Thirteen states, including Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia, forbid pound seizure. Most other states have no law and leave it up to county or town governments to decide.

Class A Dealers

Anyone selling animals to laboratories or selling more than 24 dogs or cats per year at the wholesale level must be licensed. Class A dealers maintain their own breeding colonies, such as puppy mills.
According to the States News Service, Class A dealers or breeders who choose to release animals for research; people who donate their companion animals to research; and private and federal facilities that breed animals are capable of supplying far more cats and dogs than are required by current laboratory demand.

Class B Dealers

Anyone 18 or older who is willing to pay a fee can obtain a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Class B dealer license. In states that allow pound seizure, Class B dealers may buy animals from pounds and animal shelters. "Bunchers" are also a vital source of animals in the dealers' network. Using sedatives hidden in meat, females in heat, and nets, they lure or trap dogs and cats. Some thieves pose as animal control officers and comb neighborhoods in vans, "confiscating" animals without tags. Many bunchers also purchase litters from unsuspecting people who allow their animal companions to breed and obtain animals from "Free to a Good Home" advertisements.

C.C. Baird, the largest and most notorious Class B animal dealer in the United States, purchased animals from people using false addresses and non-existent driver's license numbers. In March 2004, after years of efforts by animal protection organizations, the USDA filed a 108-page complaint listing hundreds of violations against C.C. Baird, his wife, Patsy, and their daughters, Jeanette and Patricia.

States News Service reports that there are about 50 "random source" animal dealers across the United States. They often keep hundreds of animals in squalid conditions and give them little food and water. These animals often are eventually sold to research laboratories for $200 to $500 each.

Chimpanzees and other primates used in U.S. laboratories are primarily captive-bred. Unwanted chimpanzees from zoos and circuses are sometimes sold to laboratories. Poachers also shoot chimpanzee mothers and take their infants for research. Many of the captured baby chimpanzees die before they reach the laboratory. The Oregon National Primate Research Center brags that it maintains colonies of rhesus monkeys, snow monkeys, vervets, and baboons who were taken from the wild and/or brought to the center from other facilities.

Rodents and Other Animals

Birds, frogs, pigs, sheep, cattle, and many naturally free-roaming animals (e.g., prairie dogs and owls) are also common victims of experimentation. So are mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, and rabbits. Most small animals used in laboratory experiments are bred by callous companies who view animals as little more than walking pin cushions and test tubes with whiskers. For example, Charles River Laboratories is one of the world's largest suppliers of rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, guinea pigs, and other animals for laboratory experiments. The Jackson Laboratory supplies approximately 2 million specially bred JAX Mice to major universities, medical schools, and research laboratories in the world every year.
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