Rep. Michael F. Doyle (D-PA) has introduced the Pet Safety and Protection Act, H.R. 2256. The Pet Safety Protection Act would amend the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. §§2137, 2138 and ban the sale of "random source" dogs and cats by Class B dealers to research laboratories.
Class B dealers are basically those who buy, sell and transport animals. Some have been accused of taking pets which are stolen or obtained from "random sources", keeping them in horrific conditions and then selling them for medical research. For example, unscrupulous Class B dealers often answer ads in the newspaper that offer animals "free to a good home". They will steal pets off the streets. Laboratories will pay $250-$350 per animal.
The only places research facilities would be able to acquire animals would be from Class A dealers (breeders), other licensed research facilities, a person who has bred the animal or owned it for at least a year, or a registered publicly owned and operated shelter that obtained the animal from its legal owner .
The Act provides for a $1000 fine for each violation in addition to any other applicable penalty.
Animal Law Coalition opposes the use of any animals for research, and though this Act does not go far enough, it is at least a start to end that practice. Under this bill animal research labs and facilities would be barred from aiding in the widespread theft of pets or animals intended as pets such as those advertised in newspapers. These animals could no longer be used for research.
One of the most notorious Class B dealers was Chester C. "C.C." Baird. Baird was the largest USDA licensed Class "B" animal dealer. He was also the operator of what was the largest known pet theft ring. Baird kept hundreds of animals in deplorable conditions and reportedly sold them for research.
Thanks to an undercover investigation by Last Chance for Animals, Baird pleaded guilty to felony charges of conspiracy to launder money in an operation involving the sale of dogs and cats to research laboratories.Â (For his horrific crimes, though, Baird received only 3 years probation and 6 months home detention. His wife, Patsy, was sentenced to 2 years probation for misprision of felony mail fraud. Their fines together totaled $10,000.)
An HBO documentary which aired in February, 2006, Dealing Dogs, follows the case of Baird, a Church of Christ minister, who allegedly made millions as a licensed Class B dealer selling animals for research.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The House version, H.R. 2256 has dozens of co-sponsors. Find your U.S. representative here by entering your zipcode at the top right and ask him or her to co-sponsor the bill. If your representative is already a co-sponsor, thank him or her and ask your rep to encourage others to sign on!
H.R. 2256 has been assigned to a subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture, the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry. Find committee members (click on their names for contact info) and urge them to support this important bill.