As of today, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the world’s largest provider of funds for biomedical research, will not pay for research conducted with dogs obtained from random source Class B dealers.
These dealers get their dogs in a variety of ways, including from animal shelters and Craigslist ads, or by stealing them from their yards. They then sell the dogs to research laboratories.
In 2012 the NIH stopped funding research that used cats from Class B dealers, but it’s taken three years to include dogs as well.
“We thank NIH for its work to institute this policy and we welcome this step forward,” Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), wrote on his blog today. “We also thank the many other organizations who devoted their energies to achieving this important milestone, including Last Chance for Animals and the Animal Welfare Institute.”
As many as 2 million dogs and cats were sourced by Class B dealers before the passage of the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act in 1966, according to Pacelle. Over the next two decades, there were still more than 200 registered Class B dealers in the United States.
Today there are only three registered Class B dealers, and one of them is being investigated by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
“Careful scientists don’t associate with these dealers,” Pacelle wrote, “and the campaigning and exposés led by animal advocates weakened the dealers and shut off some of their sales routes.”
While this is good news, Class A dealers continue to breed dogs — particularly Beagles, because of their trusting personalities — to be used in biomedical research. Nonprofits like the Beagle Freedom Project are working to provide homes for these dogs after the research is completed, and are also advocating for alternative, dog-free ways to conduct the research in the first place.
Photo credit: United States Marine Corps