WASHINGTON — Now-famous beagles rescued from a breeding and research facility in Virginia were on Capitol Hill Thursday as an animal welfare group and a California congressman lobbied for legislation that would promote adoption of research animals.
“It is unfortunate that animals are still allowed to be used in testing. I hope this will go away very, very soon. But while this is happening, we can do better,” Rep. Tony Cárdenas said.
The beagles came from a controversial Envigo medical dog breeding facility in Cumberland County that closed under pressure from federal regulators due to a series of animal welfare violations, the Virginia Mercury reported. federal agents in May seized hundreds of dogs and puppies found “in acute distress”.
A judge in July approved a plan to move 4,000 beagles from the facility to shelters for adoption, making national headlines. One adopter turned out to be Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and her husband, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, who now live in California.
On Thursday, several of the beagles were at the Capitol to be petted and shown during a “meet and greet” and to help provide an update on animal research.
Cárdenas, a California Democrat, presented a invoice last October, which would require any facility receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health to make “reasonable efforts” to adopt any dog, cat or rabbit deemed suitable for adoption once that animal is no longer needed for research biomedical and behavioral.
The legislation has four other co-sponsors, Joe Neguse of Colorado, Jimmy Panetta of California, Donald Payne Jr. of New Jersey and Dina Titus of Nevada.
Asked about the strategy to achieve the level of support the bill would need to clear the House and Senate, Cárdenas told the States Newsroom that he plans to fend off criticism from the research industry. that the measure is “too onerous”.
“I’m not buying this,” he said.
Cárdenas also hopes more of his colleagues will voice their support for the legislation.
Monica Engebretson, North America campaign manager for Cruelty Free International, said 15 states require animal research facilities to offer unwanted dogs and cats for adoption. But she thinks a national law is necessary.
Engebretson said the group has had success in pushing through policy changes in the past through the annual legislation that funds the NIH, headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, and hopes to do so again with this policy proposal. current.
The NIH website says it is “committed to continuing to develop alternative methods of non-animal models”, although it notes that “we are not at a point where alternative approaches can completely replace the use of ‘animals at the moment’.
“Alternatives simply cannot accurately replicate or model all biological and behavioral aspects of human disease,” writes the NIH. “Until then, animal models will remain essential for NIH-supported research.”
The NIH also has an Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.
But neither its public health service policy on the humane care and use of laboratory animals nor its guide for the care and use of laboratory animals contain any proposals or suggestions as to whether cats, dogs and rabbits should be available for adoption once they are no longer needed.
The Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare notes on its website that it “supports the safety and welfare of animals and reminds institutions that their policies should clarify the disposition of animals acquired for research after research is complete, which may include adoption”. It also states that it “will not assume any legal or financial responsibility for any adoption program” of research animals.