Pound Seizure Puts Shelter Dogs in Jeopardy
What is “pound seizure?”
It is a practice that compromises shelter integrity, threatens the wellbeing of shelter animals and gives research institutions license to take animals without having to justify the cost.
Pound seizure is the ability of a research or educational institution to take animals from municipal or county pounds and shelters to use for experimentation, vivisection or dissection. The decision to take these animals is at the discretion of the researchers, although they are obligated to wait until any mandatory waiting period is over before taking any individual animal from the shelter.
In some states—or in certain counties—the decision to sell unclaimed animals for research is optional, leaving it to the discretion of the animal care facility. When animal care facilities do sell their animals for research, it undermines any effort to aggressively encourage adoption since there is already a market for the unclaimed pets. In fact many times a researcher will request a certain breed or size of animal; giving the animal care facility even less incentive to place those animals back with their own families or with a new one.
Many states—and individual counties and cities—have abandoned this practice altogether, specifically forbidding the sale or gift of unclaimed animals to any research institution or school. In Michigan, for example, the decision on this issue is left to the counties and most counties have ruled against allowing shelters to sell their dogs for research, but not all counties are onboard with this policy, even after numerous advocacy efforts.
Statewide, there are a variety of laws regarding pound seizure. There are prohibitions as well as laws requiring pounds to release their animals to licensed research facilities. Here is a summary of current law. To find the text of a particular law, go to Animallaw.com. Select laws at the top of the page and enter your state and the key words “pound seizure.” You may also go to the Animallaw.com selection for “Model Laws” for an example of a law prohibiting pound seizure that you would like to see passed in your state.
States prohibiting pound seizure:
California (No statewide law; however, every county has banned pound seizure.)
District of Columbia
States that allow individual counties/municipalities/shelters to determine policy on pound seizure:
States that mandate that licensed researchers can take animals:
Minnesota (five day holding period)
Oklahoma (15 days without license, 30 with license)
If you live in one of the states that still permit pound seizure and would like to see that changed, there is a model law on the AnimalLaw.com website which you are welcome to download and submit to your state legislature to introduce in your state.