Animal Cruelty – What Is Pound Seizure?

Pound seizure refers to the practice of taking cats and dogs from municipally funded shelters and pounds to serve as models in biomedical research. The practice started long ago in small-scale projects, but it exploded after World War II as the funding for biomedical research increased.

When dogs and cats are acquired for research, their fates become unprotected. While some animals may die quickly, others may endure long- term studies. Once the pound/shelter releases the animal for research purposes, the animal is rarely protected by anti-cruelty laws. Pound seizure proponents rationalize that animals in the shelter are going to die anyway. After all, the argument goes, the animals were lost or abandoned as unwanted pets. Why not use them for research? The National Humane Education Society (NHES) and many other humane organizations reject this argument, insisting that animals have a right to a safe and happy existence. Furthermore, the animals chosen for the laboratory are the ones most likely to have been adopted – the young, medium-sized, 1 to 3 years of age, healthy and friendly. Those rejected by researchers are those least likely to find adoptive homes.

In the U.S., there is no federal law regarding pound seizure. Only the following states forbid this practice: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, South Carolina and Hawaii.

Most other states leave the issue up to local governments, but, five states (Iowa, Minnesota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah) actually require pound seizure use in government-run facilities. By allowing pound seizure, we place a shameful price on animal life – allowing shelters to serve as discount warehouse suppliers for research. Shelters are intended to be protective havens for animals, not commodities brokers for laboratory purposes. Pound seizure is unfair to both companion animals and communities as it violates a public trust that , sanctuary for animals and either a future with a new owner or a humane death.

To find out if pound seizure is legal in your community: *Call your local humane society *Obtain a copy of your city ordinances at your local library. If pound seizure is legal in your area, work to repeal laws by: * Organizing others who oppose pound seizure * Circulating a petition calling for the repeal of pound seizure laws & submit it to local and state officials *Write to local and state legislators and urge them to repeal existing laws *Write to the editor of your local newspaper to inform readers of the potential tragedy awaiting stray/unwanted pets at shelters that deal in pound seizure. NHES promotes a total ban on any biomedical research involving pain and suffering to animals and encourages communities to push for the outlaw of this practice at all legislative levels.

The NHES is a non-profit organization working to foster a sentiment of kindness to animals in children and adults. NHES promotes compassion in the treatment of all animals through humane education programs for all ages. We also provide sanctuary care and adoption of cats, dogs and retired thoroughbred horses.

Compliments of Cheryl Spence Director of Education of the National Humane Education Society (703) 777-8319.

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