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What Is Pound Seizure?
Pound seizure refers to the taking of cats and dogs from shelters and pounds to serve as models in biomedical research. The practice started many decades ago in small-scale projects, but exploded after World War II as funding for biomedical research zoomed upward.

When dogs and cats are acquired for research, their fates become uncertain. While some animals may die quickly, others may be earmarked for long-term studies. Once the pound or shelter releases the animal for research purposes, the animal is rarely protected by anti-cruelty laws.

Rationale Flawed
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? Many 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 be adopted - young, one to three years of age, healthy, friendly, and of medium size. Those who are rejected by researchers are the animals least likely to find adoptive homes.

Interestingly, the National Institutes of Health, the largest funded of biomedical research in this country, stopped using shelter animals in its own in-house research several years ago because they consider such animals unsuitable research subjects. Shelter animals are not fully known by the researcher as are purpose-bred animals. Nothing is known about the shelter animals' origins, health conditions, or age, and typically the animals lack conditioning for research. Further, it is more expensive to buy, treat, and condition shelter animals than it is to purchase animals purposely bred for research.

A Safe Haven For Animals?
By allowing pound seizure, we're placing a cheap price on animal life - allowing shelters to serve as discount warehouse suppliers for biomedical research laboratories. Shelters are intended to be protective havens for animals, not commodities brokers for laboratory resources.
Pound seizure is unfair to both companion animals and communities. It violates a public trust that shelters and pounds will provide shelter for animals and either a future with a new owner or a humane death. Citizens might be reluctant to bring in a stray to a shelter knowing that the animal might wind up in a medical experiment, often involving pain and suffering.

Current Law
Fourteen states currently prohibit the release of impounded animals to research facilities: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and West Virginia. Of these, Massachusetts is the only state which specifically prohibits the sale of pound animals brought in from other states as well. This ban has not collapsed biomedical research in that state nor has it run up costs. instead, the state continues as a leader in biomedical labs. Massachusetts law is a model for other states to adopt in their jurisdictions.

Release of impounded animals for research purposes is required in the District of Columbia, Iowa, Minnesota, Oklahoma (by pounds only; shelters may release animals for research), South Dakota, and Utah.

Release of impounded animals for research is allowed in Arizona, California, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin. All other states permit pounds or shelters to decide for themselves whether or not to provide animals for such purposes.

To the best of our knowledge South Florida Shelters and other Florida Shelters do not participate in Pound Seizures. Please contact your local shelters to ask if they participate in this practice and ask them to stop.

Please contact your elected officials to ask them to stop giving government funding for lab testing on companion animals for medical research.

Suggested Contacts
Please feel free to send this letter to different media contacts. You can send to TV stations, as well as newspapers. If you are sending a letter to the editor about "pound seizure," you must write an
original letter. The goal is to make sure the public is aware of "pound seizure."
Contact info for your local media:


"Pound Seizure"

To Whom It May Concern:

Some pounds, shelters and humane societies in the United States sell "surplus" dogs and cats to Class B dealers and/or research facilities. This practice is commonly called "pound seizure." Most people are not aware that this happens. We request that you cover this very important issue and help to educate the public.

Shelter animals are traumatized by losing their human companions and/or by ending up in a strange environment. They should not have to endure even more trauma by being turned into research tools. Shelters were not intended to be warehouses for research labs. With "pound seizure," no one can be certain their own beloved pet will never fall into the hands of researchers. A lost or stolen pet may not be located or rescued in time to prevent tragedy.

For more information on this topic, please visit:

The public needs to know what is happening to these homeless, domesticated animals. Please help bring awareness to the animals' plight. We look forward to seeing your coverage of this issue.

Thank you for your consideration.


"If you can't save all the shelter pets, then save just one."




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