Class B Dealers
Who are they and why should they be eliminated?
A series of federal bills have been introduced over the past decade to prohibit research facilities from using animals obtained from random source, or “Class B” animal dealers. These bills would eliminate animal dealers that obtain their animals from “random sources,” including through small breeders, owner sales, and other sources. The Pet Safety and Protection Act, as these bills have been called, would amend the Animal Welfare Act to ensure that all dogs and cats used by research facilities are obtained legally.
The problem with federally licensed “Class B” dealers is that record keeping for each animal sold by these dealers has never been adequately addressed. While under federal law the source of all animals must be accounted for at the time of sale, records are frequently missing, or cannot be substantiated when inspected. At the same time, there are enough verified reports of stolen animals turning up in research facilities that were traced back to such dealers. In a 2010 report from the Government Accountability Office, the problem of enforcement was again raised, especially with a large number of investigations that remained open because inspectors were unable to trace back all animals to the source provided.
On October 1, 2012, the National Institutes of Health implemented a plan to limit funding to researchers for the use of cats from Class B (random source) animal dealers, as recommended in a 2009 report issued by the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research, Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random-Source Dogs and Cats in Research. That report found that random source dogs and cats are not necessary for use in biomedical research as there are adequate numbers of animals available from other sources. In 2011, NIH implemented a 48-month pilot project to reduce the number of dogs obtained from Class B dealers and to give researchers time to find alternative sources for their dogs.
While the NIH decision may help to eliminate the use of animals from Class B animal dealers, it is not likely to have an effect on animals taken directly from shelters or the use of euthanized shelter animals for dissection. It also only impacts federal facilities and federal funding, not state or privately-owed entities. The decision would also not accomplish what federal legislation would do, which is to eliminate random source dealers altogether.
Random source dealers sometimes sell animals that are obtained from owners who no longer want them, but these owners are often misled that the animals are going to a “good home,” not to be sold into research. Ads in newspapers that read “free to a good home,” may attract the agent of such a dealer, who represents that they are taking the puppies or kittens for their family pets. Unprotected animals left out in an easily accessible yard may also be targets for theft, with the animals being turned over to the Class B dealer for resale.
Under this bill, research facilities would be required to get their animals from only specified sources:
• A licensed dealer who has bred and raised the dog or cat;
• A publicly owned and operated pound or shelter that obtained the dog or cat from its legal owner, other than another pound or shelter; is registered with the Secretary and is in compliance with applicable regulations for dealer;
• A person that is donating the dog or cat who bred and raised the dog or cat, or owned the dog or cat for not less than 1 year before making the donation;
• A research facility licensed by the Secretary; and
• A Federal research facility licensed by the Secretary
These bills specifically state that no animal shelter or pound would be required to provide animals to a research facility upon demand (pound seizure).
The Pet Safety and Protection Act is a measure that has been introduced in three successive sessions of Congress, yet has failed to pass each year. Send a letter to your Congressman through the NAVS Take Action page on the current bill under consideration.