Source of Dogs and Cats

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AnimalearnThe American Anti-Vivisection Society

Source of Dogs and Cats Used in Higher Education

Colleges and universities obtain the dogs and cats that they use in education and training—both live and dead—from various sources (See Appendix A). In certain states, schools looking for cheap sources of animals purchase or otherwise acquire dogs and cats directly from animal pounds and shelters through a process known as pound seizure. Alternatively, pounds and shelters might sell dogs and cats to dealers or who then sell the animals to schools, or other dealers. Biological supply companies also may breed their own animals to sell. The USDA classifies dealers as either Class B (which includes biological supply companies) or Class A, depending on how the animals are acquired.

Universities acquire dogs and cats from:
Pounds/shelters (pound seizure)
Class B random source dealers
Biological supply companies
Class A dealers
Our investigation turned up disturbing findings about the “sources” where colleges and universities in our sample are obtaining dogs and cats used for teaching purposes. Animalearn examined the problems with obtaining animals from pounds and dealers and the laws in place governing pound seizure and animal dealers. As our investigation shows, many animal dealers consistently violate federal animal welfare laws. This includes providing or obtaining dogs and cats through questionable means and treating animals inhumanely, yet they continue to reap huge profits.

Alternatives, on the other hand, provide technologically sophisticated ethical, and economical solution to this problem (See Appendix B). In addition, laws or policies prohibiting pound seizure and Class B animal dealers that obtain animals through random sources (See Appendix A) would help safeguard companion animals from being exploited in the name of higher education91.

Pound Seizure

Pound seizure is the acquisition of animals from pounds and shelters for use in laboratory experiments and teaching projects.Pound seizure is the acquisition of animals from pounds and shelters for use in laboratory experiments and teaching projects. Based on our investigation, we identified several colleges and universities that have, over a three-year period, collectively obtained thousands of dogs and cats for teaching purposes directly from pounds and shelters. Taking pets from shelters for these purposes, however, raises numerous problems, both ethical and technical. Several states have historically mandated that shelters relinquish animals to research facilities, but many are now recognizing the problems with pound seizure and are increasingly banning the procedure.

1. Universities Acquiring Animals from Pounds and Shelters According to the results of our investigation, several universities are acquiring cats and dogs from pounds and shelters for use in education92. Based on our survey, one of the most troubling examples of schools acquiring cats and dogs directly from shelters is Texas A&M University93. Between January 2005 and July 2008, Texas A&M acquired 474 live dogs from local animal shelters, primarily Lehman Animal Shelter in Giddings, Texas94. Records indicate that the dogs were euthanized at the university on the same day they were acquired from the shelter95. Between January 2006 and March 2008, Texas A&M acquired 86 dead cats from Lehman Animal Shelter96.

Other schools97 obtaining cats and dogs directly from pounds and shelters include: Colorado State University98, University of Georgia99, Michigan State University100, Iowa State University101, and University of Minnesota102.

2. Problems with Pound Seizure103 Pound seizure should not be considered a solution to the cat and dog overpopulation problem. The release of companion animals from shelters and pounds to research and teaching labs erodes the very core of a shelter’s purpose, which is to provide a safe haven for lost, abandoned, or unwanted animals104. A shelter/pound that releases animals directly to research facilities will lose the public’s trust105,106. This could decrease the number of animals brought to the shelter/pound, and increase the number of abandoned animals. The National Animal Control Association has a policy against pound seizure laws mandating the sale or release of animals to research institutions for these very reasons107. Pound seizure is especially concerning during the current foreclosure crisis and economic downturn, as more families find themselves forced to relinquish their pets to shelters. Pound seizure runs contrary to a shelter’s purpose, which is to provide a safe haven for lost, abandoned, or unwanted animals and promote adoptions.It is estimated that between 500,000 and 1,000,000 additional pets are going to be relinquished to pounds and shelters or abandoned solely due to the foreclosure crisis108.

In addition, cats and dogs from pounds and shelters who are sold to dealers or university laboratories are likely to be animals who would be considered “adoptable” (i.e., healthy, non–aggressive); otherwise, they would not be desirable as experimental subjects109,110. Placing a dollar value on a live or dead animal for a “sure–sell” to a dealer can, under certain circumstances, corrupt the shelter system, bypassing its important role in promoting animal adoptions.

Furthermore, animals who were once pets are particularly ill-suited for the laboratory. Cats and dogs in need of temporary shelter, whether they are “strays” or relinquished, likely lived a varied life that was not as restricted as that in a laboratory setting111. Suddenly being placed in confined, socially–isolated, and in unfamiliar conditions can be psychologically traumatizing112. These cats and dogs also have unknown medical histories and potential exposure to diseases, which can confound results of certain experiments or infect other animals113,114. In addition, because the background of these animals is not known, in some situations even seemingly non-aggressive animals may prove to be unpredictable, posing a danger to people working with them115.

Another concern is that because it is considered inexpensive to purchase or otherwise obtain animals from shelters and pounds116,117, animals are likely to be used more expendably and in greater numbers. However, implementing the use of alternatives, such as high-tech animal models and Educational Memorial Programs (EMPs), through which clients can donate deceased cats or dogs for use in education, can also reduce costs (See Appendix B for information on creating an EMP). Furthermore, if animals are not cheaply available to colleges and universities, there may be an incentive for these schools to re-evaluate their animal use protocols and consider humane teaching methods that are being used successfully by other schools.

The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) is specifically opposed to the use of cats and dogs obtained through pound seizure or random source animal dealers, and it encourages the use of non-animal alternatives in teaching118.

3. History of Pound Seizure Pound seizure has been a controversial issue in the animal advocacy and research communities since the late 1800s. After World War II, with the availability of increased funding, animal studies became a fundamental part of research, and there was increased demand for animals for use in laboratory research, testing, and teaching, but sources that could provide these animals were uncertain119,120. Scientists turned first to pounds and shelters, which were places full of “surplus” animals who could be acquired cheaply121. The argument was made, and continues to be made today, that these animals are unwanted and are going to be euthanized anyway122.

Beginning in the 1940s, laws were passed that required pounds and shelters to release dogs and cats to research laboratories. The National Society for Medical Research, which eventually evolved into the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), lobbied for the majority of laws between 1945 and 1960 encouraging the acquisition of dogs and cats from pounds by laboratories123,124.

Minnesota (1949)125,126, Wisconsin (1949)127, and New York (1952)128 were among the first states that passed laws requiring the release of animals in shelters or pounds for use in research129. By the early 1970s, 10 states had laws requiring publicly-funded shelters to release animals to research facilities130.

AAVS’ History Working to End Pound Seizure

AAVS has had a long history of working to end pound seizure. In 1911, for example, AAVS led efforts to stop the traffic of stolen animals who were sold to medical laboratories, which eventually formed the framework for the prohibition of pound seizure in Pennsylvania. An AAVS representative spoke on behalf of such legislation, proclaiming that no impounded animals shall be sold for animal experimentation. Two years later, Pennsylvania bill No. 436 was introduced to institute pound seizure, and, outraged, AAVS Founder Caroline Earle White wrote to the legislature on behalf of the organization, voicing opposition to the bill, which was later defeated.

AAVS continued advocating for animals in shelters through the years, especially during the 1940s when issues regarding pound seizure were heightened. However, with so much legislative activity throughout the country to pass such bills, AAVS had to fight harder each time new legislation was introduced. For example, in 1945, after the introduction of yet another pound seizure bill, No. 1022, AAVS called on Mr. Owen Hunt, a Philadephia area legislative advisor, who five years later became AAVS President, to lead our successful opposition of this proposed law. As the years progressed, Mr. Hunt, with the cooperation of our members, worked diligently to stop the passage of several pound seizure laws not only in Pennsylvania but also in other states, including Connecticut, Illinois, and New York. To this day, pound seizure is prohibited in these states as well as Pennsylvania.


4. Current Status of Pound Seizure Laws Pound seizure is prohibited in 14 states.Though laws mandating pound seizure were enacted over a half-century ago, some of them still exist today. Others have been repealed or amended as a result of the continued efforts of the animal protection community. For example, in 1979, following a strong campaign by animal advocates, New York repealed the Metcalf-Hatch Act of 1952131, which had required public and private shelters that received municipal funds to surrender unclaimed animals upon request to state research facilities132,133. In 1980, Connecticut repealed its pound seizure mandate, and prohibited pound seizure entirely134. In 1983, Massachusetts became the first state to ban pound seizure and prohibit the import of animals from pounds or shelters in other states135. Fourteen states (Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia) and the District of Columbia now have laws prohibiting shelters from providing animals for research136.

Pound seizure is still mandated in 3 states: Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Utah. Several other states allow it.However, three states (i.e., Minnesota, Oklahoma137, and Utah) still have state laws requiring pounds and shelters to turn over animals to research facilities, though Oklahoma permits exceptions to local ordinances. Some other states have laws allowing researchers access to animals from publicly funded shelters only under certain conditions. Other states have no law at all, leaving the matter to local discretion. As is evident from our study, some colleges and universities continue to take advantage of the availability of pound seizure to procure dogs and cats for use in teaching.

Conclusion We found that several colleges and universities have acquired thousands of dogs and cats directly from shelters and pounds for training and teaching purposes. Many of the animals obtained from pounds and shelters had already been euthanized or were euthanized upon arrival at the universities.

Pound seizure is an outdated practice that raises significant ethical concerns. It can jeopardize modern animal shelter systems that are intended to harbor companion animals and promote their adoption into loving homes. Cats and dogs acquired through pound seizure likely once were pets, and their transfer to animal dealers (described in Section III) and laboratories represents a violation of trust and compounds the stress to the animals involved. Additionally, animals obtained from pounds and shelters are desirable to schools because they can be acquired cheaply or for free, yet they may harbor unknown health problems that can negate results of experiments or infect other animals on site.

However, the use of these animals can be replaced with humane alternatives, such as the use of client-donated cat and dog cadavers. In addition, shelter medicine programs have been developed that provide a service to local shelters while allowing students to learn important skills (See Appendix B.1.g. for information on shelter medicine programs). Use of these alternatives does not shake the trust that people expect to have in animal shelters but rather allows people to feel comfortable that, if they do have to bring a pet to a shelter, their pet will not end up in a laboratory and used in experiments.

91USDA defines “random sources” as “dogs and cats obtained from animal pounds or shelters, auction sales, or from any person who did not breed and raise them on his or her premises.” See 9 C.F.R § 1.1.
92This section describes universities’ direct acquisition of cats and dogs from pounds and shelters. More information about animal dealers’ sale of animals, including those obtained from pounds and shelters, can be found in the Class B Dealer section.
93Pound seizure is not addressed in Texas state law.
94Four hundred and sixteen dogs were acquired from Lehman Animal Shelter in Giddings, TX.; 28 dogs were from Fayette County Animal Shelter in La Grange, TX; 25 dogs were from Bastrop County Animal Control and Shelter in Bastrop, TX; and 5 from Brenham Pound in Brenham, TX.
95Records of disposition (i.e., fate) of the dogs were not received for 2005.
96According to records received from Texas A&M, the cats were euthanized prior to being picked up by university personnel.
97University of California-Davis ended pound seizure in 2006.
98Between 2005-2007, Colorado State University received 210 dog cadavers from the Larimer County Humane Society in Fort Collins, Colorado. It is unclear if the bodies were purchased or donated. Colorado state law (C.R.S. 35-42.5-101 (2002)) allows pound seizure, with restrictions.
99In 2006, Stephens County Animal Control (SCAC) donated 26 live dogs to the University of Georgia. In 2007, SCAC donated 65 live dogs, and as of July 2008, SCAC had donated 33 live dogs to the University of Georgia. In 2007, University of Georgia, Athens received 31 dog cadavers and three cat cadavers as donations from Athens Clarke County Animal Control. In 2007, 23 dog and nine cat cadavers were donated from Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter. All live dogs were subsequently euthanized at the university. The euthanized dogs and the donated cadavers were used in a small animal medicine and surgery course.
100In 2005, Michigan State University (MSU) purchased three live dogs and two live cats from Jackson County Animal Control (Jackson, MI) for use in education. In 2007, MSU purchased six live dogs from Eaton County Animal Shelter (Charlotte, MI). Michigan state law (MCLS § 287.388 & § 287.389 (2003)) allows pound seizure.
101In 2005, Iowa State University bought six live dogs and two live cats from the Des Moines Animal Shelter for use in education. Between 2005 and 2006, two local animal pounds donated live cats and dogs to Iowa State: the Perry City Dog Pound (Perry, IA) and the Jefferson City Dog Pound (Jefferson, IA). Perry City donated 46 live cats and kittens and 22 dogs. Almost all of the cats and kittens were euthanized. Jefferson City donated 31 live dogs and 18 live cats, and most of the cats were euthanized. Iowa state law (Iowa Code § 162.2 & 162.20 (2008)) allows pound seizure.
102In 2005, University of Minnesota used 798 live dogs and 424 live cats who were obtained from animals shelters, students, or clients and returned. Similarly, in 2006, the University used 748 dogs and 480 cats, and in 2007, it used 572 dogs and 361 cats. The University did not specify how the animals were used, from which shelters they were acquired, or if they were used specifically in education. Minnesota state law (Minn. Stat. § 35.71 (2002)) requires pound seizure. It is unclear whether all of these animals were returned to the shelter.
103Also see: http://www.banpoundseizure.org.
104One example of a legal definition of “animal shelter” can be found in the Illinois state code in which it is defined as: “a facility operated, owned, or maintained by a duly incorporated humane society, animal welfare society, or other non-profit organization for the purpose of providing for and promoting the welfare, protection, and humane treatment of animals.” (510 ILCS 70 § 2.01h).
105Kullberg, John, President, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Letter. The New York Times 21 Mar 1987. New York Times 20 Jan 2009. .
106Rowan, Andrew N. Of Mice, Models, & Men: A Critical Evaluation of Animal Research. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1984.
107National Animal Control Association. Policy Statement: Dispositions of Animals – Pound Seizure. 17 Sep 2002. NACA. 29 Jan 2009. http://www.nacanet.org/polseizure.html.
108ASPCA. “ASPCA Estimates Up to 1 Million Pets at Risk During Economic Crisis.” Press Release. 2009 February 5. http://www.aspca.org/pressroom/press-releases/020509.html.
109Edwards, Cecile. “The Pound Seizure Controversy: A Suggested Compromise in the Use of Impounded Animals for Research and Education.” Journal of Land, Natural Resources, and Environmental Law 11(1990):241-263.
110An example is the allegations againt Sargeant’s Wholesale Biological, who allegedly acquired dogs who were preferred for use in education from Tulare County Animal Control. See Biological Supply Companies infra pg. 30.
111Orlans, F. Barbara, et al. “Where Should Research Scientists Get Their Dogs?” The Human Use of Animals: Case Studies in Ethical Choice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 289-304.
112Prescott, Mark J., et al. “Refining dog husbandry and care: Eighth report of the BVAAWF/FRAME/RSPCA/UFAW Joint Working Group on Refinement.” 38(2004) SUP1: s1.1-s194.
113Scorpio, Diana G., et al. “Retrospective Clinical and Molecular Analysis of Conditioned Laboratory Dogs (Canis familiaris) with Serologic Reactions to Ehrlichia canis, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Rickettsia rickettsii.” Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science 47(Sep 2008):23-28.
114Rowan, Andrew N. Of Mice, Models, & Men: A Critical Evaluation of Animal Research. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1984.
115Prescott, Mark J., et al. “Refining dog husbandry and care: Eighth report of the BVAAWF/FRAME/RSPCA/UFAW Joint Working Group on Refinement.” 38(2004) SUP1: s1.1-s194.
116Id.
117Scorpio, Diana G., et al. “Retrospective Clinical and Molecular Analysis of Conditioned Laboratory Dogs (Canis familiaris) with Serologic Reactions to Ehrlichia canis, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Rickettsia rickettsii.” Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science 47(Sep 2008):23-28.
118American Medical Student Association. “Principles Regarding Vivisection in Medical Education.” AMSA Website. Undated. AMSA. 25 Jan 2009. http://www.amsa.org/about/ppp/vivi.cfm. Infra. pg—
119Orlans, F. Barbara, et al. “Where Should Research Scientists Get Their Dogs?” The Human Use of Animals: Case Studies in Ethical Choice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 289-304.
120Edwards, Cecile. “The Pound Seizure Controversy: A Suggested Compromise in the Use of Impounded Animals for Research and Education.” Journal of Land, Natural Resources, and Environmental Law 11(1990):241-263.
121Orlans, F. Barbara, et al. “Where Should Research Scientists Get Their Dogs?” The Human Use of Animals: Case Studies in Ethical Choice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 289-304.
122Michigan Society for Medical Research. “The Use of Pound Animals in Biomedical Research.” Factsheet. Undated. mismr.org. 29 Sep 2008. http://www.mismr.org/educational/pound.html.
123Orlans, F. Barbara, et al. “Where Should Research Scientists Get Their Dogs?” The Human Use of Animals: Case Studies in Ethical Choice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 289-304.
124Parascandola, John. “Physiology, Propaganda and Pound Animals: Medical Research and Animal Welfare in Mid-Twentieth Century America.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. 62(2007): 277-315.
125Minnesota Stat. § 35.71.
126Edwards, Cecile. “The Pound Seizure Controversy: A Suggested Compromise in the Use of Impounded Animals for Research and Education.” Journal of Land, Natural Resources, and Environmental Law 11(1990):241-263.
127Parascandola, John. “Physiology, Propaganda and Pound Animals: Medical Research and Animal Welfare in Mid-Twentieth Century America.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 62(2007): 277-315.
128Rowan, Andrew N. Of Mice, Models, & Men: A Critical Evaluation of Animal Research. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1984.
129Wisconsin’s law applied to both public and private animal shelters, even if they did not receive public funds. Wisconsin state law now allows, but does not require, pound seizure. (Wis. Stat. § 74.13 (2002)).
130Edwards, Cecile. “The Pound Seizure Controversy: A Suggested Compromise in the Use of Impounded Animals for Research and Education.” Journal of Land, Natural Resources, and Environmental Law 11(1990):241-263.
131New York Public Health Law § 505.
132Edwards, Cecile. “The Pound Seizure Controversy: A Suggested Compromise in the Use of Impounded Animals for Research and Education.” Journal of Land, Natural Resources, and Environmental Law 11(1990):241-263.
133Pound seizure was prohibited in New York in 1987. (NY CLS Agr & M § 374.2-e (2002) and NY CLS Agr & M § 374.5b (2002)).
134Rowan, Andrew N. Of Mice, Models, & Men: A Critical Evaluation of Animal Research. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1984.
135Anonymous. “Massachusetts Outlawing Laboratory Use of Pets.” The New York Times 27 Dec 1983. New York Times 29 Jan 2009. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9902E7D81538F934A15751C1A965948260.
136See excerpts of laws at: http://banpoundseizure.org/yourstate.shtml.
137Oklahoma legislation, HB 1886, introduced in 2009, would specifically allow USDA-licensed Class B dealers to obtain animals from shelters.
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