A Call For An End to Pound Seizure Laws

Pound seizure laws typically require shelters or pounds to release animals to testing, research or educational facilities on demand.

These laws were first passed in the 1940s. Most of these laws were promoted by the National Society for Medical Research, which eventually evolved into the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR). Under these laws animals that are not claimed by an owner within a period of days must be turned over to facilities that use animals for testing, research or education. These animals who at one time lived in a home are now locked in cages and tortured in the name of medical science or education. Animals subjected to tests or experiments suffer terribly and die agonizing deaths.

It is no longer the 1940s, 1950s or 1960s. Using animals for testing or research or even education is fast becoming a thing of the past. Pound seizure laws should be relics of a bygone era. Indeed, thirteen states have banned pound seizure: Connecticut, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 22-332a; Delaware, 3 Del. C. § 8001; Hawaii, HRS § 143-18; Maine, 17 M.R.S. §1025; Maryland, Md. Ann. Code art. 27, § 67B; Massachusetts, Mass. Ann. Laws ch. 140, § 151, 174D; New Hampshire, RSA 437:22; New Jersey, N.J. Stat. § 4:19-15.16; New York, NY CLS Agr & M § 374; Pennsylvania, 3 P.S. § 459-302; Rhode Island, R.I. Gen. Laws § 4-19-12; Vermont, 13 V.S.A. § 352; and West Virginia, W. Va. Code § 19-20-23.

New York, Maryland, and West Virginia prohibit release of cats and dogs to testing and research facilities while the other ten states ban the release of all animals to such places.

There is still no federal law, though, concerning pound seizures.

Several states and Washington, D.C. continue to allow the release of animals to testing, research and educational facilities. Arizona, A.R.S. § 11-1013; California, Cal Civ Code § 1834.5-1834.7; Colorado, C.R.S. 35-42.5-101; Iowa, Code §145B.2-.6; Michigan, MCLS § 287.389 (Though Jackson County, Michigan has banned pound seizure.) Ohio, ORC Ann. 955.16; South Dakota, § 40-1-34, § 34-14-8; Tennessee, § 44-17-112, Virginia, §§ 3.1-796.96 96.1, 96.105; Wisconsin, § 174.13.

The remaining states leave the decision about whether to allow pound seizure to the counties and municipalities. And in the past selling animals to testing or research facilities has been a way for some local shelters or pounds to raise money.

There are 3 states that still have pound seizure laws: Minnesota, § 35.71, Utah § 26-26-3, and Oklahoma. 4 Okl. St. §§ 394, 501.

As an example, here is Utah’s pound seizure law: § 26-26-3. Period of impoundment and effort to find owner prerequisite to delivery of animals to institution by governing body of county or municipality — Owner’s prerogative regarding provision of animal to an institution The governing body of the county or municipality in which an establishment is located shall make available to an authorized institution as many impounded animals in that establishment as the institution may request; provided, however, that such animals shall have been legally impounded at least five days or for such other minimum period as may be specified by municipal ordinance, and remain unclaimed and unredeemed by their owners or by any other person entitled to do so. The establishment shall first make a reasonable effort to find the rightful owner of such animal, and if the owner is not found, shall make a reasonable effort to make the animal available to others during the impound period. Owners of animals who voluntarily provide their animals to an establishment may, by signature, determine whether or not the animal may be provided to an institution or used for research or educational purposes.

Pound seizure is illegal in Denmark, England, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Animal Law Coalition calls for the repeal of pound seizure laws in Utah, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. We urge states which allow pound seizure to pass laws banning this practice.

2 thoughts on “A Call For An End to Pound Seizure Laws”

  1. This makes me sick to my stomach. This has got to end! I would rather the animal die then go to a research lab.

  2. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.

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