When someone takes an animal to a shelter, the last thing they think will happen to them is that they’ll end up in a research lab. But in many cases, that’s exactly what happens. Pound seizure, or when shelters and pounds sell animals to research labs, has been a problem since the forties. In Iowa, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Utah it is actually a law that shelters must give cats and dogs to laboratories. This started when scientists argued that they could essentially put the animals to better use, since most of them would die anyway when not adopted. Despite problems with the system, such as unknown genetic backgrounds that could interfere with testing (along with the obvious animal welfare issues), pound seizure was allowed to continue.

Animal experimentation is cruel and unnecessary. There are many ways to conduct research without using animals, such as using skin grafts and computer models. I believe one of the reasons pound seizure continues to happen is that many people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes at many shelters. Animal shelters don’t exactly advertise that if the animals who bring in are not adopted within a specific time frame they’re eligible for horrendous testing and eventual death in a steel cage of a research laboratory.

Informing people is the first step to end this cruel practice. Currently there are thirteen states that outlaw the practice completely. Every state has a different law about pound seizure. To check yours, visit the American Anti-Vivisection Society. In many states, including my own North Carolina, it is a jurisdictional issue. After researching your state’s laws, write your representatives, which you can find at Project Vote Smart, and let them know what you want changed. The only way your representatives keep their job is to listen to their constituents, which means your thoughts are important. If you can’t come up with ideas for a letter, In Defense of Animals can help out with an example letter you can start with.

The animals need your help. Together we can expand those thirteen states outlawing pound seizure to include all fifty.