by Elisa Black
Photo by Brian Gunn with his permission
OK folks, time to get hot over another issue many don't know about. Today I'm taking on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA), and some shelters in the state of Michigan. So what's got me hot this week? I'm not sure. I guess a little bit of everything.
I start web surfing and these subjects literally jump out at me.
Selling animals turned into the shelter to agencies who will conduct "experiments" on the animals is tops on my list this week. Especially if the animal may have a home and was "lost."
Until May 2008 The Eaton County Animal Shelter in Charlotte, Michigan either gave away or sold shelter pets for research. They did not try to find homes for the animals or even allow volunteers to work with the animals. Why bother with volunteers when they knew from day one that the surrendered animal was a dead animal?
They also didn't bother checking for microchips or tattoos. In December 2009 the lawful seizure of shelter animals for research was stopped at this facility - see: http://web.archive.org/web/20100328230713/http://www.americanhumanesociety.org:80/advocacy/stop-pound-seizure.html (link broken).
This came to light when a Class B dealer called one of the tattoo businesses saying he had an animal that needed to be signed off on by the owner because it had a tattoo. In other words the shelter never bothered to look for an owner. The trouble is that Michigan had several who were breaking the law and I'm sure there are shelters just like it all across the country.
Julie Moscove, owner of Tattoo-A-Pet in Michigan is a heroine. In October 2008 she received a call from a Class B dealer. He had obtained a tattooed dog from a shelter (caller refused to name shelter) and needed the owner to sign off on the animal before turning it over for research. She took matters into her own hands to save the dog involved. She contacted the MDA who said it was a USDA issue. Anyone care to guess what happened next? She contacted the USDA who stated it was an MDA issue. Michigan Animals has more information on the case and the dog she helped save.
The University of Michigan is one place where animals are used in medical experiments. First let us look at the statistics. There are more than 10 million animals put to death in shelters and pounds each year. Michigan alone has about 500,000. Research shows that less than 2% are used for medical and educational purposes.
Another thing that complicates matters is the importance of this research. This is how many treatments/cures for a wide variety of diseases are determined safe for the human population. This issue is not one where you can just pick a side.
There is a bill called Koda's Law which would ban pound seizures to be used in research. The formal name of this bill is HB4663 and it can be viewed here.
There are at least 10 Class B dealers in the U.S. Many are under USDA investigation. I haven't found any info on whether this has been passed yet. Hopefully someone in Michigan will let us know. It will ensure animals are found homes or humanely euthanized. NOT tortured-for lack of a better word. Which is what happens anytime an animal is experimented on.
The whole issue is sugarcoated with words like "pound", "shelter", and "purpose bred." For more on this please see Michigan Society for Medical Research. It all summarizes where animals marked for death come from. I won't go into more on this because I'm about to make you even madder.
The USDA admits to over 1 million "pets" which includes, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits and a few others are sacrificed each year. This is down from the 2 million per year in the late 1980's. This subject is also sugar coated. That seems to be my word for the day. They classify research by levels of pain inflicted on the animals. Many are bred solely for research and never intended to join the "forever home pet population." Many are obtained by Class B dealers - see American Anti-Vivisection Society.
I realize people have to do something to earn a living but this is just WAY beyond my comfort level. Let me explain. THESE are the people I'm very upset with. They obtain the animals for research. Some come from pounds or shelters. What many pet lovers don't realize is these are the "nice people" who show up when you run a freebie ad. So instead of sending Fluffy or Smokey off to a good new home, you're giving these Class B dealers what they want. FREE STOCK! Who knows how many of the dealers are "operating under the radar."
I've often mentioned dealing with freebies in finding homes for my rescues. Note what I add at the end of the freebies add. Vet references. It's a given if you want your little ones to find a good home. If you don't take the time to check out the character of the home your babies are going to-it's just too horrible to continue this.
I'd also like to stress the importance of checking out your local shelter. Study their policies. If you don't like their policies then do something about it. Help turn a kill shelter into a no kill shelter. Financially support them. Take responsibility and have your cat spayed or neutered. Donate food and blankets. A friend of mine emailed me the following article. I'd like to point out that 40 animals were turned in by their owners in 1 day. There is no minimum holding time for turn ins. The shelter where the animal is surrendered literally determines life or death.
Please don't blame the shelter for doing our dirty work. They don't like it any more than we do.
People need to take responsibility from day one of cat ownership. Spay or neuter. That way you won't have to worry about taking your fur babies to the shelter in the first place. And don't talk yourself into a happily ever after ending. Unless it's a no kill shelter your baby has a 90-95% chance of being euthanasized.
I'm not exactly clear what I'm trying to say here. Call it brain freeze. There's bound to be controversy regardless. The animals would have been put to death anyway. My argument is they shouldn't have to suffer. I disagree with breeding solely for research. These are little lives with little hearts we're talking about here. To never know the love of a forever home is unimaginable.
Isn't causing death or suffering to an animal illegal? Guess the bureaucratic red tape squeezed that one thru also.
Do any of you have an issue you'd like to vent over. If you don't, just vent on mine.
Did you find this article useful and interesting? Can it be improved? Please tell me in a comment. I am always keen to improve the site for animal welfare and reader enjoyment.