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What Is Pound Seizure?

Pound seizure refers to the taking of cats and dogs from shelters and pounds to serve as models in biomedical research. The practice started many decades ago in small-scale projects, but exploded after World War II as funding for biomedical research zoomed upward. When dogs and cats are acquired for research, their fates become uncertain. While some animals may die quickly, others may be earmarked for long-term studies. Once the pound or shelter releases the animal for research purposes, the animal is rarely protected by anti-cruelty laws.

Pound seizure proponents rationalize that animals in the shelter are going to die anyway. After all, the argument goes, the animals were lost or abandoned as unwanted pets. Why not use them for research? Many humane organizations reject this argument, insisting that animals have a right to a safe and happy existence. Furthermore, the animals chosen for the laboratory are the ones most likely to be adopted - young, one to three years of age, healthy, friendly, and of medium size. Those who are rejected by researchers are the animals least likely to find adoptive homes. Interestingly, the National Institutes of Health, the largest funded of biomedical research in this country, stopped using shelter animals in its own in-house research because they consider such animals unsuitable research subjects. Shelter animals are not fully known by the researcher unlike purpose-bred animals such as Rats. Nothing is known about the shelter animals origins, health conditions, or age, and typically the animals lack conditioning for research. Further, it is more expensive to buy, treat, and condition shelter animals than it is to purchase animals purposely bred for research.

By allowing pound seizure, we are placing a cheap price on animal life - allowing shelters to serve as discount warehouse suppliers for biomedical research laboratories. Shelters are intended to be protective havens for animals, not commodities brokers for laboratory resources. Pound seizure is unfair to both companion animals and communities. It violates a public trust that shelters and pounds will provide shelter for animals and either a future with a new owner or a humane death. Citizens might be reluctant to bring in a stray to a shelter knowing that the animal might wind up in a medical experiment, often involving pain and suffering.

Read more information about Pound Seizure by the Rise for Animals Team

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated" - Mahatma Gandhi

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Page updated: May 10th 2023
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