New legislation will be introduced this week that would reduce the number of animals killed by federal agencies after they have been used for government testing.
The bill from Reps. Brendan Boyle, D-Pennsylvania, and Jackie Walorski, R-Indiana, would require all federal agencies to establish a policy for how and where to retire animals used in government lab testing after they are done being used for experiments. The legislation only includes animals already protected under the Animal Welfare Act, such as monkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs.
Right now, almost all regulated animals used in government lab testing are killed afterward, according to information obtained by Congress from federal agencies. White Coat Waste Project, a watchdog group that opposes government spending on animal experiments, estimated that over 50,000 of these animals were used in federal labs in fiscal year 2018, based on information from several federal agencies.
“The data we’ve been able to gather from agencies shows that some agencies that use thousands of animals each year, none of them are making it out alive,” said White Coat Waste Project Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy Justin Goodman.
The National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration, all organizations that are a part of Health and Human Services, used hundreds of dogs and thousands of primates in fiscal years 2016 and 2017, according to information provided to Congress by the agencies.
None of these animals were adopted or retired after they were used by the agencies, except for 36 primates used by the CDC that were retired to a sanctuary in 2017. FDA last used dogs in experiments in 2016, according to the document.
“Unfortunately, this has been done for way too long out of convenience and simply because there’s been so little accountability and transparency to what’s happening to animals in government labs,” Goodman said.
The legislation would apply to all federal agencies using animals in testing, including the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture. Last month, USDA announced it would stop using kittens in lab testing after Sen. Jeff Merkley introduced legislation in December 2018 to stop the practice.
Boyle said this legislation is the next step in preventing the kind of abuse that was occurring at the USDA.
“It turns out the problem is pervasive among many government agencies, not just the USDA,” Boyle told CNN. “The reality is there are plenty of people out there who would love to care for these animals if they are given the opportunity.”