Do you have a question for the ASPCA about our organization, reporting animal cruelty, caring for your pet or another animal-related topic? We'd love to hear from you! But before you call or email, please check to see if your issue is addressed below.
*Please note: The information contained in the FAQs section is provided as a courtesy, and does not imply the endorsement, recommendation and/or approval of any company or organization.
Help get legislation passed by joining the ASPCA's Advocacy Brigade. As a member of our Advocacy Brigade, you will receive regular updates informing you of the introduction and status of various bills pending in your state legislature and Congress, and what you can do to help. Active involvement by concerned individuals like you is extremely important in the successful passage of legislation to better protect animals.
You may wish to contact the following organizations for overseas and international assistance:
Please visit our Report Animal Cruelty page to find detailed instructions for recognizing and reporting animal cruelty within New York City and elsewhere in the United States.
There, you will also find information about reporting:
- Pet store cruelty
- Cruelty depicted in movies and on television
- Cruelty seen on websites
The ASPCA suggests the following options when you suspect your veterinarian of improper conduct, negligence or malpractice:
- If the matter is a financial issue, contact your state Better Business Bureau or Department of Consumer Affairs.
- If the matter is an operational or medical issue, contact your local veterinary medical association’s Ethics and Grievance Committee.
- If the matter is a malpractice issue, contact your state’s veterinary licensing board. This is the agency that investigates allegations of misconduct. Another option is to file a lawsuit against the veterinarian in question.
You can call or write any vet clinic in your state to find contact information for the medical association and/or licensing board in your area. In addition, you can contact:
The American Association of Veterinary State Boards
American Veterinary Medical Association
If you find a dead animal, you should call your local Department of Sanitation to have the animal removed as soon as possible. A dead animal can be a health hazard to people and other animals. In New York City, the general information number of the Department of Sanitation is (212) 219-8090.
Outside NYC: Contact your local humane organization, animal control officer, or Police Department for assistance.
Please know that the ASPCA does not have certified wildlife rehabilitators on staff, nor do we have wildlife experts or a wildlife department.
For answers to wildlife questions, you can visit the following websites:
Some situations involving nuisance wildlife in your home or on your property may require the professional services of a company that specializes in removing wildlife from private property. The ASPCA urges you to use reputable companies who specialize in the humane removal and/or release of captured wildlife.
For lost or found pets in New York City, please contact Animal Care and Control (AC&C) by calling 311 or search their online database.
Outside NYC: Report a lost or found animal to your local shelter or animal control facility immediately. Because animal control facilities are often overwhelmed with unclaimed and unwanted animals, time is of the essence. If you find an animal, keep in mind that someone is most likely looking for this pet, and if you don't report it to your shelter, the owner may never be reunited with his or her animal. You may also wish to place flyers around the neighborhood or an ad in your local newspaper. If you want to keep a pet whose owner cannot be located, consult your local humane organization for advice on how to proceed.
The ASPCA considers pets to be members of the family. With many millions of companion animals surrendered to animal shelters each year, and countless stray animals roaming our streets, giving up a companion animal is not a decision to be taken lightly. If circumstances arise that prohibit you from caring for your pet, there may be options for you to consider before relinquishing your pet.
Many companion animals are given up by their owners because of behavior problems—and in most cases, there are things you can do to change your animal's unwanted behavior. Before you give up on your pet, please consult a reputable trainer or animal behaviorist for assistance. Your local humane organization can help with a referral. You can also see our online behavior information for helpful tips to common problems.
If you have made up your mind to re-home your companion animal, your best bet is find your pet a home through your own personal contacts (i.e., your veterinarian, dog walker, pet sitter, friends, family, co-workers, etc.). You may also wish to list your pet on Petfinder.com.
Do not give up if you do not find a home for your animal right away! Finding an ideal home for a companion animal may take considerable time and effort, but your pet's future is in your hands. Be sure to screen potential adopters carefully; ask them for references; inquire about employment, financial stability, and previous pet ownership. Ask to visit their homes before you place your animal to ensure that the environment is suitable, and be sure to follow up with calls and visits.
If you can no longer keep a purebred dog, you may wish to visit the American Kennel Club's website, which provides a list of breed-specific rescue groups that place purebred dogs in homes. Putting your pet in a shelter should be your last resort. Most animal shelters operate at full capacity, and there is often a waiting list to get an animal into a non-animal control ("no-kill") shelter. Even if your pet does qualify for entrance into a "no-kill" shelter and there is space available, there are no guarantees that your pet will be adopted quickly, or at all. Remember, the number of animals in need of homes far outweighs the number of people looking to adopt. Most shelters reserve the right to end the life of any animal evaluated to be unfit for adoption, or if time or space has run out. Rules and regulations vary in every shelter, and so do the conditions. Make sure that any shelter you bring your animal to has a reputation for humane conditions and successful adoptions. To find a shelter near you, please visit our Find a Shelter page.
The ASPCA regrets that we are unable to provide specific medical advice for your pet, or to comment on the medical care offered by a licensed health care professional. In order to properly diagnose a medical condition, a licensed veterinarian should be consulted. Self-diagnosis or delay seeking proper veterinary care may worsen your pet's condition.
If your pet is showing unusual or abnormal behavior or exhibiting signs of illness, such as loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea, or blood in the stool or urine, you should consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment of medical problems offers the best chance of successful treatment.
For general information about pet health care problems, please visit our Pet Care section.
You may also wish to visit the following websites:
The information on these websites may best be used in helping you to identify symptoms to enable the best possible treatment by a licensed professional. Write down the symptoms you've observed, when you observed them, and anything else that you think could have contributed to your pet's condition, including change of diet, etc., to discuss with a professional.
The ASPCA cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information posted on these sites.
A current pet license is your dog's ticket home should he or she become lost. And in New York City and many other areas in the country, it is also the law. A dog license helps your community keep tabs on pet populations, helps fund animal and humane health programs (i.e., spay/neuter, rabies programs, animal waste removal/sanitation, etc.), and helps foster responsible pet ownership.
Outside New York City
Contact your veterinarian, local humane organization, or town hall to determine what agency issues dog licenses and how to get one.
In New York City
Dog licenses are issued by the NYC Department of Health (DOH)—contact them by dialing 311. You can also download an application for a NYC Dog License.
For information about finding emergency care for your pet in New York City or elsewhere, please visit our Emergency Care page.
In New York City, you may choose to seek emergency care at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, which is located at 424 East 92nd Street, between 1st and York Aves. Hospital hours are Monday through Friday 9:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M., and Saturday from 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. The Hospital is closed on Sundays. Our phone number is (212) 876-7700.
The first step is to ask your animal hospital or private vet whether they offer a payment plan. Your local humane organization or animal advocacy group also may have information about other groups or organizations in your area that assist pet owners with veterinary bills.
In addition, if you live in a state that has a large college or university with degree programs in Veterinary Medicine, you may wish to contact the school and department for information about low-cost services they might offer through their programs.
The following organizations may be a good resource for other affordable options for veterinary care. The information given below is provided as a courtesy and does not imply the endorsement, recommendation and/or approval of any company or organization.
Groups that are breed- or injury-specific:
In New York City only:
If you have received legal notice regarding pets and housing, you'll need to learn about the PET LAW and consult with an attorney. Visit our NYC FAQ for more on the Pet Law in New York City.
If you are a dog owner who has recently experienced a problem obtaining or renewing your homeowner's insurance due to breed bias or other reasons, please see this article from the American Kennel Club.
You may also wish to contact:
Pet owners who allow their pets to roam unattended are putting the animals' welfare in jeopardy and creating a nuisance to neighbors, other domestic pets and wildlife. Allowing dogs to run off leash in inappropriate places is dangerous for the dog, puts people and other animals at risk and, in many towns and cities, is illegal. Leash laws exist to protect animals and people, and we urge you, as a responsible pet owner, to abide by them. Any animal control officer, police officer, or appropriate law enforcement agent can issue a summons upon witnessing a violation. Contact your local humane organization or animal control facility to determine what laws apply in your area.
In New York City: For leash law complaints in New York City, please contact the Department of Health at (212) 442-9666.
The ASPCA applauds the New York City Board of Health’s December 2006 decision to allow dogs to run without leashes in certain parks between 9:00 P.M. and 9:00 A.M. This new legislation codifies the off-leash courtesy many Big Apple parks have had in effect for nearly two decades. Download a PDF of the complete amendment to Article 161 of the New York City Health Code .
The ASPCA encourages dog owners to show their gratitude by cleaning up after their pets, obtaining a dog license and spaying or neutering their pets.
Please visit our database for a list of organizations that offer free or low-cost spay/neuter services.
In NYC: For lost or found pets in New York City, please contact Animal Care and Control (AC&C) by calling 311 or search their online database.
Outside NYC: Report a lost or found animal to your local shelter or animal control facility immediately. Because animal control facilities are often overwhelmed with unclaimed and unwanted animals, time is of the essence. You may also wish to place flyers around the neighborhood or an ad in your local newspaper. Please visit our Finding a Lost Pet page to learn more.
The ASPCA strongly recommends that pet owners consider microchipping their pets, in addition to a current dog license and identification tag. You may also wish to discuss microchipping with your local veterinarian.
The following companies provide microchipping services:
If you suspect your pet may have been poisoned or has ingested a toxic substance, call the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at (888) 426-4435. APCC is a national telephone hotline available 24 hours a day/7 days a week and staffed by veterinarians and Board Certified Veterinary Toxicologists. Please note: There is a $65 charge for this lifesaving service.
Losing a pet is never easy, and you don't have to go through it alone. Please visit our End of Life Care page for more information.
Boarding facilities*: The ASPCA strongly advises a visit and thorough inspection of each potential boarding facility, even if the facility has been recommended to you. Ask for, and check, references from other clients, inquire about the facility, its hours of operation, supervision of animals, exercise regimens, dietary provisions, affiliation with veterinarians in the community and staff qualifications. It's a good idea to check the reputation of a potential boarding facility with local veterinarians, trainers, etc.
Pet sitters*: If a boarding facility is not right for your pet, consider a professional pet sitter, who can care for your animal in your home or theirs. For referrals to a reputable pet sitter, you may wish to contact:
*The ASPCA does not independently investigate or endorse any pet sitting or boarding facility.
Shelters and Adoption
In NYC: The ASPCA Adoption Center is located at 424 East 92nd Street (between 1st and York Avenues). Please visit our Adoption Center page for hours of operation and for information about our adoptable animals. You can also visit one of NYC Animal Care and Control's shelters to adopt a pet. Visit their website to see photos of available animals and get information about adopting.
Outside NYC:Visit our Find a Shelter page to find an adoption center in your area. You can also visit Petfinder.com, an online database of about 60,000 adoptable animals at thousands of shelters and rescue groups throughout the United States. You can search this site by breed, sex, age, gender and location.
The ASPCA's Community Outreach department welcomes requests for help from people looking to improve the lives of animals in their communities. Every year the ASPCA visits hundreds of shelters throughout the country, talking with directors, volunteers and employees, discussing their problems and assisting them with suggestions, materials and resources. It takes a lot more than good intentions to run a shelter, and the ASPCA's Community Outreach team is staffed by seasoned animal welfare professionals who are there to help with sheltering situations in YOUR area.
Donating to the ASPCA
Of course! Please make your money order out to the ASPCA and send it to:
ASPCA Gift Processing Center, PO Box 96929, Washington, DC 20077-7127.
Yes, you may. Please make your check out to the ASPCA and send it to:
ASPCA Gift Processing Center, PO Box 96929, Washington, DC 20077-7127.
All ASPCA donation pages use EV SSL certification, which is indicated by the VeriSign Trusted logo. EV SSL certification is the highest level of authentication currently available and ensures that any information provided is safe and secure. In addition, all ASPCA donation pages redirect to a secure https: web address that contains ASPCA.org in the URL. If any of those items are missing, no donation through the site should be made.
If you suspect an email or website may be fraudulent, please contact the ASPCA directly at [email protected] to verify if we are aware of the situation, have authorized the use of our name, and do in fact receive support from them. Report any incidents of consumer fraud or deception directly to the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.ftc.gov/charityfraud or call (877) FTC-HELP. If you believe an organization or website may not be operating for its claimed charitable purpose, contact your state Attorney General or the Better Business Bureau.
We want to make life as a Guardian a little bit easier, so we've put together some of the more commonly asked questions! Of course, if you have a question not covered here, please feel free to contact: (800) 628-0028. Please be sure to have your membership ID number handy for fastest service.
Q: How can I make changes to my account, i.e. change amount, change my credit card number? A: It's so easy! Please just call (800) 628-0028. If we receive your change prior to the month's processing deadline we can make the change effective for that month. If not, it'll take effect the next month.
Q: I currently send you a check every month...How do I go about having automatic deductions from my checking account? A: Just fill out the EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) section on the back of your Guardian statement and return it with your pledge. Be sure to check off the change of payment type box on the front of your statement too before sending in back in the envelope provided.
Q: I'm a check writer and my statement shows two open months—the current and the last. I never miss a month and therefore find this very upsetting. What is happening? A: The current one is always open due to it being the reminder. If your previous check was deposited after the 21st, then it missed the statement printing deadline and will appear on the next statement. It really just boils down to timing and is not a reflection of your commitment, or our bookkeeping.
Q: Can I stop whenever I want? A: Of course! Just call (800) 628-0028. Your cancellation will take place the same month, or the following month, depending upon when we receive your call.
Q: I've been a Guardian for several months, but have not received any letters verifying my donations for tax purposes. Will I be receiving one? A: Yes, Guardian participants receive one statement reflecting the prior year's total contributions (Please note that this statement will not contain donations made to our regular or other restricted funds). This statement is usually mailed in February.
Q: I love being a Guardian, but I want my money to go to a specific fund. How do I go about that? A: Unfortunately, we cannot allocate your money to another restricted fund. Part of being a Guardian is that you are helping the ASPCA in all its' many programs and efforts.
Q: I signed up to be a credit card Guardian, but I'm still receiving a monthly statement and no charges have appeared on my credit card. What's up? A: Guardian transactions take place but once per month. Therefore, depending on when your request was received/processed, it can take up to a month and a half for you to see a charge appear on your card and for the statements to stop. If it's longer than that, the please bring it to our attention so we can look into the situation for you.
Q: I'm a Guardian, but I am receiving renewal notices. Aren't I considered a member? A: You may have a duplicate record on our database or you may have joined the Guardian program after the renewal mailing was prepared. If you receive more than one renewal notice please call us at (800) 628-0028 and we will look into this for you.
There are three ways to make a tribute donation:
Online:You can make an honor gift or memorial gift online. This is a very simple process, and the fastest way for your message to be sent.
By mail: If you’d like to send a check, please enclose a note indicating the name of the deceased or honoree, the name and the address of the person you wish us to contact concerning the donation, and who it is from. We will send out a tribute card to the person you’ve indicated. Please send your check to: ASPCA Tributes, 520 8th Ave., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10018.
By phone: We also accept credit card donations over the phone. Please call 800-628-0028.
This is the result of a timing issue between the date your renewal gift is received and keyed onto our member database and the date of our next renewal mailing. If you have renewed, please disregard any additional notices that you may have received—and thank you for your support.
Thank you so much for your inquiry. We have special place cards that indicate that a donation has been made in honor of guests in lieu of favors. If you wish, a sample card can be emailed to you for review. To receive place cards, you can donate online at www.aspca.org/wedding. You can also call (212) 876-7700, ext. 4516 to make your credit card donation over the phone and your cards will be shipped. For more information, you can email Linda Tiramani at [email protected].
We’re very happy you enjoy the labels, but unfortunately, individual orders cannot be taken. Those particular labels are mass-produced for membership solicitations.
There are three levels of ASPCA membership:
Regular Membership—$25 annually. Membership is from January to December. We begin sending out renewal notices in January of each year. With regular membership, you are entitled to our full-color newsletter, ASPCA Action. The publication will keep you updated on all ASPCA events and programs. To join today, please visit our Donate section.
Monthly Membership—ASPCA Guardian Program for monthly gifts of $10 or more. As a Guardian member, you are entitled to our member newsletter, ASPCA Action, as well as a special quarterly Guardian Newsletter, and access to a special Guardians-only website. To enroll today, please visit our Donate section. As Guardian memberships are continuous, there is no need to renew your support each year.
Founder’s Society—Annual gifts of $500 or more. Founder’s Society Membership runs from January to December. As a Founder’s Society member, you are entitled to our member newsletter, ASPCA Action, as well as a listing in our Annual Report. To join today, please visit our Donate section.
Thank you very much for your donation—and we are so sorry for any inconvenience that you may be having. First, you’ll need to determine if the extra charge on your online credit card statement is a pending charge. A pending charge usually means that you submitted incomplete or inaccurate information when you made your donation. Even if you received an error message, your credit card company will still place a pending line item on your online statement. If you have determined that the extra charge is a pending charge, it will be cancelled by your bank in a few days. If it is not a pending charge, and has not been cancelled after a few days, please contact [email protected].
Mail from the ASPCA
We most likely have more than one member record for you in our database.
Please call 800-628-0028 or email [email protected]. We will be happy to remedy this for you. To ensure a quick resolution, please provide us with complete name and address information.
Please call 800-628-0028 or email [email protected]. We will be happy to accommodate you. To ensure a quick resolution, please provide us with complete name and address information.
If you’d like to receive fewer solicitations, please contact 800-628-0028 or email [email protected]. We will be happy to rectify the situation for you. Please be aware that it will take a bit of time to process this request, because mailings are prepared in advance. You may not see a marked difference for a few months.
Other Questions about the ASPCA
The ASPCA Special Events department creates and engineers major fundraising events for the ASPCA. Each year, this department hosts the National Humane Awards Luncheon, the Bergh Ball, and a celebratory night for our Young Friends of the "A." Additionally, we create and manage all fundraising, cultivation, and staff events, as well as the ASPCA's Annual Meeting. Should you have interest in attending any ASPCA fundraising event, please email Katie Landow in the Special Events department at [email protected].
There is only one ASPCA, and we are headquartered in New York City, founded in 1866 as the first animal welfare organization in the Americas. Although there are SPCAs and humane societies all over the country, we are not directly affiliated with them. On a local level, we are striving to create a Humane Community in New York City, and we are active nationally through outreach programs.
The ASPCA is regularly the subject of news coverage in local and national print and broadcast media outlets. Numerous programs, activities and animal-related issues were brought to the media's attention through our ongoing proactive outreach and the handling of daily requests from reporters for expert comment on animal-welfare related topics. ASPCA staff appears in news venues, including top-rated network, cable and local television stations, major newspapers, national magazines, national radio networks and online news sites. For current media news, please visit our online pressroom. Reporters and members of the media, please contact the ASPCA's Media and Communications Department at [email protected] or call 212-876-7700 ext. 4655
Working with Animals
The ASPCA has established many programs that relieve the pain, fear and suffering of animals. At our New York City headquarters, we operate an Animal Hospital and Adoption Center. The ASPCA also serves animals through departments such as Legal, Special Events, Fundraising and Development and Strategic Cause Partnerships. In addition, the ASPCA has facilities in Urbana, Illinois, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, California.
We encourage candidates who demonstrate outstanding inter-personal communication and the ability to work in a team environment or independently, with a high degree of integrity and accountability.
The ASPCA offers generous benefit packages for full-time employees and if qualified, we offer domestic partner coverage! Our benefits include: Medical, Dental, Vision, STD, LTD, 401(k), Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), Transit checks, Tuition Assistance Program, Training Seminars, EAP, 50% hospital discount, Vacation, Sick, Personal & Company Holiday time off.
Please visit our Careers page to find and apply for open positions in a variety of departments.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, Vietnam-era or disabled veteran status in its employment programs and policies.
The ASPCA’s volunteer program is vital to our operation, and our volunteers are making an impact in many areas. Today, volunteers assist in the care and placement of the animals housed in our shelter, educate the public and provide support for administrative programs.
Visit our Volunteer Opportunities page for more information. If you aren’t in New York City, please see our article on Finding a Shelter to find an organization near you.
Website and Email Questions
Please email us your old and new email address to [email protected].
Please click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of any email the ASPCA sends out. If you have already deleted your email from the ASPCA, you can send us an unsubscribe request to [email protected].
To stay up-to-date on the latest news from the ASPCA, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
The ASPCA authorizes permission to reprint specific articles, photos, and other educational information on a case-by-case basis. To consider your reprint request, please provide the ASPCA with the following information:
- The full legal name of the organization requesting permission to reprint.
- Contact information (organization name, address, phone number, e-mail).
- The type of organization requesting reprint authorization (e.g. for-profit or not-for-profit).
- The location and date the requested information appeared on the ASPCA website.
- Purpose of the reprint request.
Information may be provided via email, regular mail, and/or fax to the following addresses/fax number:
Attn.: Legal Department
424 E. 92nd Street
New York, NY 10128
Fax: (212) 860-3560
Please allow at least two weeks for processing after all information has been received by the ASPCA Legal Department. The ASPCA's failure to reply to any reprint request is NOT implied or explicit permission to use such materials. Permission to reprint any ASPCA material is made on a one-time only basis; additional reprint requests must be approved by the ASPCA.
The ASPCA Legal Department provides counsel to the ASPCA and cannot give out legal advice to or act as an attorney for outside organizations or individuals. We do, however, offer information on resources nationwide that may be helpful in resolving problems.
Please note that while the ASPCA does not endorse any of the following organizations, they may be able to refer you to a lawyer with animal law experience in your area:
- The Association of the Bar of the City of New York Legal Referral Service: (212) 626-7373
- ABCNY Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals (Contact Meena Alagappan)
- Legal Aid in New York City
- Manhattan: (212) 426-3000, (212) 577-3300
- Bronx: (718) 991-4600
- Brooklyn: (718) 722-3100, (718) 645-6613
- Queens: (718) 286-2450
- Staten Island: (718) 273-6677
- Legal Services for New York City: (212) 431-7200
- Animal Legal Defense Fund: (707) 795-2533
- American Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service: (800) 285-2221
- Municode.com (Information on local laws and ordinances)
Patriot Paws is committed to train service dogs that will enhance the lives of disabled veterans who have sacrificed so much for our nation and to provide a service for other American’s with mobile disabilities. To meet this goal, Patriot PAWS intends to build partnerships with community and state organizations to help support this undertaking.
2Use of Dogs and Cats in Research: Public Perception and Evolution of Laws and Guidelines
Dogs and cats occupy a particularly important place in American society in their roles as companion, work, and hobby animals. In addition, they serve as important animal models for research that has advanced both human and animal health. This multifaceted relationship with humans has fostered an uneasy tension between general society and the scientific community, and this tension has intensified as the stature of pet dogs and cats has risen in many households to that of family member. The specter of lost or stolen pets being used for research has evolved from a galvanizing concern into increasing resistance to the use of any former pet for research. Over the years the public’s concern about the welfare of research animals, and dogs and cats in particular, has been instrumental in the development of laws, guidelines, and policies that affect research with all types of animals.
It is thus not possible to accurately assess the desirability and necessity of using random source dogs and cats, and in particular those from Class B dealers, for research without taking into account public perceptions, the impact of the animal protection movement both on public attitudes and on the availability of these animals for research, changing trends in the use of animal models for research, and responses of the scientific community to all of these factors. The evolution of laws, policies, and guidelines regarding the use of dogs and cats in research has been an accurate barometer of these changing trends.
In particular, in 2007 the Senate considered the Pet Safety and Protection Act, which became the impetus for Congress to charge the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine the humane and scientific issues associated with the use of random source dogs and cats in research. Consequently, NIH asked the National Academies to assemble a committee of experts to address the statement of task shown in Chapter 1. This chapter provides a review of these issues to set the context for subsequent chapters that focus on the use of random source animals, and animals from Class B dealers in NIH-funded research.
PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS OF DOGS AND CATS AND OF THEIR USE IN RESEARCH
The public’s perception of their pets, and of animals in general, has been one of the main driving forces behind the legislation that created and refined the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). It is estimated that nearly half of all U.S. households have at least one dog or cat, with a total population of 72 million dogs and nearly 82 million cats (American Veterinary Medical Association [AVMA] 20071,2). In a survey conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association (20043), approximately 94% of owners attributed human personality traits to their pets and said they would risk their lives for their pet. Indeed, in urban disasters, pet owners risk their lives (and those of rescue workers) when they fail to evacuate or attempt to reenter an unsafe building or area to save a pet (Heath et al. 1998). In addition, pet owners spend over $11 billion per year on veterinary care (American Pet Products Association 2008 survey4), and the pet products industry contributes over $50 billion to the U.S. economy, with the exponential growth of pet super-stores, play parks, day care centers, and training centers.
Assessments of pet ownership and the state of affairs of dogs and cats in the U.S. must take into account the plight of homeless animals. However, it is impossible to provide a current or accurate estimate of the numbers of animals that enter shelters or are euthanized because there is no federal requirement to gather or release such data, shelters may obscure or refuse to release data to avoid negative publicity, and there is no reliable public list of shelters. Furthermore, although “shelter” or “pound” is defined in this report as a “facility that operates as a pound or shelter (e.g., a humane society or other organization established for the purpose of caring for animals), under contract with a state, county, or city, and that releases animals on a voluntary basis” the shelter data provided in this chapter may include statistics from other facilities commonly referred to as shelters. In the absence of accurate statistics, the estimated number of animals euthanized in shelters was 4.5 and 4.6 million in 1999 and 2000, respectively (Clifton 2002).
The inflow of animals into shelters varies considerably by area of the country and even among shelters within an area (Scarlett 2004). Several sources have suggested that 6–12% of the dog population entered shelters in the 1990s and that approximately 50–55% were euthanized (representing 4% of the total dog population) (Patronek and Glickman 1994; Wenstrup and Dowidchuk 1999), and that 5–8% of the estimated population of owned cats entered shelters and 65–80% of those (or roughly 3–6% of the total population of owned cats) were euthanized (Arkow 1994; Wenstrup and Dowidchuk 1999).
Although those percentages have likely changed since the 1990s, one might be able to make a rough estimate of the shelter intake numbers for any given year by taking AVMA demographic numbers of owned dogs and cats and multiplying them by the percentages above. According to the 2007 AVMA U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, the population of owned dogs in 2006 in the U.S. was 72 million (page 15, Table 1.8) and the number of owned cats was 81.7 million (page 24, Table 1.13). Those figures suggest that 4.3 to 8.6 million dogs and 4.1 to 6.5 million cats may have entered shelters, and as many as 7 million animals may have been euthanized.
Consideration of public perceptions was important to the Committee’s analysis, and such information is generally derived from surveys and other sources. Although there is a risk of bias in polls and surveys (see Box 2-1), it appears that a majority of the American public is generally supportive of the use of animals in biomedical research but that the proportion has declined significantly over the last several decades, from about 85% in 1950 to 50–60% in the late 1990s and early 2000s (Herzog et al. 2001; Moore 2003; Rowan and Loew 2001). The reasons for this decline are unknown, although they appear to reflect changes in public attitudes to a wide variety of animal-related issues over the same period (Herzog et al. 2001). In 2008 the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR) commissioned Zogby International to conduct a nationwide telephone survey. The survey revealed that although a majority of those polled supported the use of animals for medical and scientific research, they were much less supportive than those polled in 2004 (personal communication, FBR). Other survey findings suggest that public support for animal research is influenced by the perceived importance of the medical problem being researched and the type of animal used. The use of animals (of any type) to study relatively serious medical problems (e.g., cancer, heart disease, diabetes) tends to garner more support than their use for studying relatively minor problems (e.g., allergies), while research involving the use of dogs and cats receives considerably less support than that involving the use of rodents (Herzog et al. 2001). These findings illustrate the higher value that the American public places on dogs, cats, and other companion animals (Kellert 1989).
Using Caution with Survey Results. Information on public perceptions is generally derived from a variety of sources, most of which may be subject to bias. Polls and surveys conducted by special interest groups (which in the case of this report are likely (more...)
THE ANIMAL PROTECTION MOVEMENT
The animal protection movement has had a profound impact on public attitudes toward the use of animals in research and on the evolution of laws, policies, and voluntary compliance by the scientific community (as discussed in the section below on the history of U.S. laws and guidelines; also see Rudacille 2000).
Jasper and Nelkin (1992) defined three types of animal protectionists: welfarists, pragmatists, and fundamentalists. Welfarists accept most current uses of animals, but seek to minimize their suffering. Pragmatists and fundamentalists are motivated to invoke fundamental changes in the use of animals by humans, but pragmatists seek to reduce animal use through legal actions, political protests, and negotiation whereas fundamentalists demand the abolition of all exploitation of animals, on the grounds that animals have inherent, inviolable rights. Clearly, it is impossible to classify every individual into one of these categories but this system may be a useful way to understand individual motivations.
Since the beginning of the animal protection movement in Europe in the early 1800s up through the present, the iconic species that continue to capture public sympathy are the dog, cat, horse, and nonhuman primate. The U.S. animal protection community is large and varied—in 1994, there were over 400 animal advocacy groups, with a combined membership of more than 10 million (Blum 1994), and these figures have likely grown substantially since then. These groups include organizations such as the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI5), which focuses on the welfare of research animals and has published graphic documentation of animal dealer abuse (AWI 2007, which was provided to the committee); the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS6), which seeks to eliminate animal-based research that is harmful to animals; and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA7), which seeks to eliminate all exploitive uses (research, food, fiber, and entertainment) of animals by humans. At the extreme end of the spectrum of the animal rights organizations is the Animal Liberation Front (ALF8), which uses acts of intimidation, terrorism, and violence to disrupt the scientific enterprise as well as to “liberate” animals from use in sports, textiles, research, and agriculture. The actions of organizations such as the ALF have been designated as terrorism9 and resulted in passage of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (S. 3880), introduced by Congressman Thomas Petri (R-WI) and signed into law on November 27, 2006.
EVOLUTION OF ANIMAL CARE OVERSIGHT WITHIN THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY
The scientific community has had a long and contentious relationship with animal protection groups since the 1800s (reviewed in Rudacille 2000). In the past, the research community could be described as maintaining a somewhat imperious attitude toward the public, with overconfidence that what it was doing was right. Over the years, however, the scientific community has evolved the view that healthy and well-maintained animals are beneficial to and necessary for quality research and, indeed, has promulgated voluntary compliance beyond that which is mandated by law.
Since the early 1950s—well before the 1966 Laboratory Animal Welfare Act and the 1985 Research Animals Congressional Mandate10—the biomedical research community has engaged in organized efforts to improve and ensure the humane care and use of animals in research. Prominent nongovernmental scientific organizations include the National Research Council’s Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR); the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM11), established in 1957 to advance the humane care and responsible use of laboratory animals through certification of veterinary specialists, professional development, education, and research; and the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC International).
Since its creation in 1953, ILAR has played a critical role in developing and publishing numerous science-based guidelines on issues involving animals in research settings. The most important of the ILAR reports is the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, published under the 1963 title 3 years before the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act became law and is periodically updated (see Chapter 1). Since 1965, compliance with the Guide has been the AAALAC International standard for institutions seeking accreditation (in 2009, 770 institutions in 31 countries reported having been accredited12), and, as discussed below, the Guide has been incorporated by reference in federal guidelines for government-funded research.
The National Institutes of Health has also been at the forefront of efforts to improve both scientific research and laboratory animal care. In 1961 NIH funded a contract to the Animal Care Panel (now AALAS) to “determine and establish a professional standard for laboratory animal care and facilities.” The Panel appointed a Committee on Ethical Considerations in the Care of Laboratory Animals and a Professional Standards Committee to evaluate laboratory animal care and use, and their efforts, in collaboration with ILAR, resulted in the 1963 publication of the Guide for Laboratory Animal Facilities and Care (precursor to the ILAR Guide; reviewed in NRC 1996). NIH also led the way in development of the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy that applies to most federally funded animal research (more on this below). The PHS Policy requires that institutions eligible for PHS funding use the Guide “as a basis for the development and implementation of an institutional program for activities involving animals,” and the U.S. Government Principles (see below) similarly refer to the Guide.
Although the scientific community has come to embrace changes leading to the improved health and welfare of animal research subjects, at the same time the perception within the research community is that it has been under siege (Conn and Parker 2008). Attacks on and intimidation of scientists by extremist organizations have increased dramatically in recent years (FBR13 Illegal Incidents Map14). Furthermore, as animal protection groups have pushed for greater regulation of animal research, the cost of regulatory compliance in terms of dollars and time has become an increasing burden on biomedical research, even though it is not clear that the increased regulatory oversight directly benefits the health and welfare of the animals (Decker et al. 2007; Haywood and Greene 2008; Goldman et al. 2000). When regulations do not improve animal health and well-being, they are no more than regulatory burden. An earlier report (NRC 1988) noted the diminishing availability of random source animals nearly 20 years ago. The research community has attempted to push back against these trends through national science advocacy groups such as the FBR, the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR15), and Americans for Medical Progress (AMP16), all of which work to educate the public about the importance of animals in research.
EFFECTS OF ANIMAL PROTECTION ACTIVITIES ON CLASS B DEALERS AND ON SCIENTIFIC ACCESS TO RANDOM SOURCE DOGS AND CATS
Despite improvements in the biomedical research community, the use of random source dogs and cats, and animals from Class B dealers, remains a divisive and publicly visible issue. The consequences of the animal protection movement and public opinion are (1) reduced access to random source dogs and cats from pounds and shelters, (2) increased USDA efforts to inspect and enforce the AWA in regards to Class B dealers, and (3) pressure on research institutions to use purpose-bred animals from Class A dealers, to explore alternative sources of animals (e.g., donation programs, direct acquisition), to use non-animal models, and to use less iconic species (e.g., pigs, small ruminants, in addition to rats, mice, and other rodents).17 Other causes of the declining use of dogs and cats in research include reduced research funding, changing NIH program priorities, increased regulatory burden, and greater availability of other models. Animal protection activity is one of several factors that have contributed to these trends.
HISTORY OF U.S. LAWS AND GUIDELINES REGARDING THE USE OF DOGS AND CATS IN RESEARCH
Many of the changes in societal thinking that eventually led to the U.S. Animal Welfare Act of 1966 (P.L. 89-544) emerged in tandem in England and the United States over the past two centuries. In the 1820s, the English Parliament outlawed cruelty to cattle, horses, and other beasts of burden. At about the same time, the precursor to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was founded. But it was not until some 40 years later (1863–1876) that policies were developed that related to animal experimentation and the RSPCA adopted a policy against painful animal experiments. Shortly thereafter, the British Association for the Advancement of Science produced guidelines calling for the minimization of animal suffering and discouraging noncompliant experimentation (P.L. 89-544). Thomas Huxley and Charles Darwin composed a bill to regulate painful animal experiments and require the licensing of experimenters. Finally, in 1876 the Cruelty to Animals Act required experimenters to obtain yearly licenses and restricted potentially unnecessary experimental duplication.
In the colonies that formed the nucleus of what became the United States, concerns about the treatment of animals emerged early and evolved gradually over the next several centuries. The Massachusetts colony enacted the first humane law in 1641, forbidding cruelty to domestic animals. The history of this state’s actions regarding the prevention of cruelty to animals serves as an example of the changes in thinking about animals in society. In 1829 the state of New York prohibited “misuse” of horses, cows, and sheep, and in 1867 it was the site of pivotal legislation that prohibited animal baiting and fighting and required the humane treatment and transportation of impounded animals. Henry Bergh, founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA18), was instrumental in persuading New York lawmakers to support this bill. It was not until 1921, however, that all states had animal protection laws.
In the 1940s, the National Society for Medical Research helped various states formulate “pound release laws,” requiring states and local municipalities to have their animal shelters relinquish unclaimed cats and dogs to biomedical research institutions for experimentation and teaching. Minnesota passed such a law in 1949; other states soon followed. Conflicts over the humane treatment of research dogs and cats arose immediately between animal welfare advocates and those supporting medical research, and these conflicts became more overt in the ensuing years.
Federal Legislation 1877–1966
The first federal law prohibiting cruelty to animals took effect in 1877. Known as the “28-hour Law,” it regulated the amount of time and the conditions of confinement for animals transported by the meat packing industry (the law required the unloading of such animals for food, water, and rest after no more than 28 hours in transit). The USDA was subsequently tasked with inspection and enforcement in this industry as well as in other instances of animal transportation, use, and processing.
During the late 1950s and early 1960s, groups concerned about the humane treatment of animals called for federal regulation of their use in research. These calls were brought into the public spotlight by two highly publicized events, both involving dogs. In 1965, a pet Dalmatian named Pepper was reported missing and was subsequently identified, by her owner, in a newspaper photograph of dogs being unloaded from a dog dealer’s truck; Pepper was never located but may have been used in a medical experiment and euthanized before she could be recovered.19 A bill (H.R. 9743) sponsored that year by Congressman Joseph Resnick (D-NY) to regulate the use of dogs in medical research was, in part, a response to the owner’s plight. Later that same year, Coles Phinizy of Sports Illustrated wrote “The Lost Pets That Stray to Labs,” chronicling the story of Pepper, and on February 4, 1966, “Concentration Camps for Dogs” was published in Life magazine. The text of the Life article was written by Michel Silva, but it was largely a photographic essay by award-winning photographer Stan Wayman, documenting the poor conditions of dogs at the White Hall (Maryland) property of Lester Brown, a Class B dealer, revealed during an investigation by HSUS Chief Investigator Frank McMahon.
Heightened public awareness following these exposés catalyzed landmark legislation in 1966. Congressman W.R. Poage (D-TX) and Senators Warren Magnuson (D-WA) and Joseph Clark (D-PA) shepherded what would become the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 24 of that year. The Act established standards for the care, housing, sale, and transportation of dogs, cats, and other animals kept by animal dealers and laboratories (it defined “animal” to include only dogs, cats, nonhuman primates, guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits, which were thus the so-called “covered species”). It also required the licensing of dog and cat dealers and set standards for the identification of dogs and cats by dealers and research facilities in order to prevent the acquisition of animals that had been obtained inappropriately. Authority was delegated to the Secretary of Agriculture to promulgate regulations for the appropriate treatment of animals intended for research or other purposes such as exhibition and use in teaching.
The Animal Welfare Act and Related Legislation since 1970
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) of 1970 (P.L. 91-579)20 was essentially a revision of the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act of 1966, expanded to include all species of warm-blooded animals intended for or used in research or exhibition, under the purview of the Secretary of Agriculture, as well as the sale of pet animals other than in stores. The Act also requires the licensing of all animal dealers and the humane treatment of animals in all phases of experimentation (i.e., transportation, purchase, sale, housing, care, handling, and treatment). The AWA excludes horses not used in research and farm animals used for improving animal nutrition, breeding, management, production efficiency, and the quality of food and fiber.
In 1976 amendments to the AWA categorized research institutions, exhibitors, and dealers similarly in determining fines for violations. The amendments also held government research facilities to the same standards as private institutions. Amendments to the AWA in 2002 excluded mice, rats, and birds as well as some farm animals from regulation by the Secretary of Agriculture. These species had not been regulated because they were not defined previously as “animals” and with the 2002 AWA amendments they were specifically excluded for regulatory purposes. The AWR was amended in 2004 to reflect the 2002 AWA changes.
The Food Security Act of 1985 (Subtitle F, Animal Welfare, P.L. 99-198;21 also known as the Improved Standards for Laboratory Animals Act) defines humane care to include specific criteria such as sanitation, ventilation, and housing. It directs the Secretary of Agriculture to establish, and the USDA to enforce, regulations covering, for example, exercise for dogs and a physical environment that promotes the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates. The Act notably establishes the requirement for an institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC). Details of the current requirements are incorporated in the AWA Regulations (AWR; 9 CFR Part 1, Subpart C, 2.3122), which charge those involved in animal care and use to minimize pain and distress in animals by using appropriate veterinary care, anesthesia, analgesia, tranquilizers, and euthanasia. The regulations also require principal investigators to consider alternatives to any procedure likely to cause pain or distress. In commenting on the Act, Senator Robert Dole observed that “the farm bill contains legislation dealing with the humane treatment of animals. The main thrust of the bill is to minimize pain and distress suffered by animals used for experiments and tests. In so doing, biomedical research will gain in accuracy and humanity. We owe much to laboratory animals and that debt can best be repaid by good treatment and keeping painful experiments to a minimum” (Congressional Record, December 17, 1985, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC).
In 1985, an Interagency Research Animal Committee representing the Department of Health and Human Services (with PHS components including the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), NIH, and Office of International Health), USDA, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, and Veterans Administration formulated and published the U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research and Training.23 These U.S. Government Principles were universally adopted by U.S. government agencies that either develop requirements for or sponsor procedures involving the use of all vertebrate animals.
Also that year, the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 (P.L. 99-158), Animals in Research, became law (November 20, 1985), mandating establishment by the PHS of an overarching Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy).24 The U.S. Government Principles were incorporated in the PHS Policy in 1986 and provide a framework for conducting research in accordance with the PHS Policy. PHS Policy requires institutions to establish and maintain proper measures to ensure the appropriate care and use of all vertebrate animals (including those excluded under the AWA) involved in research, research training, and biological testing activities conducted or supported by the PHS, whether performed at a PHS agency, an awardee institution, or any other institution (the PHS agencies include the CDC, NIH, and FDA). The NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) is responsible for the administration and coordination of PHS Policy.
In 1990 the AWA was amended by the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act to improve the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of dogs and cats. This amendment was in response to public attitudes (as determined through public comments) and APHIS’ experience in administering and enforcing the regulations.25 Specifically, the Act strengthened regulations to prohibit the use of stolen pets in research and to provide owners the opportunity to locate their animals.26 These amendments established a minimum 5-day holding period (including one weekend day) before the sale to a USDA-licensed Class B dealer or research facility of dogs and cats acquired by (1) pounds and shelters owned and operated by states, counties, and cities, (2) private entities established for the purpose of caring for animals, such as humane societies or contract pounds or shelters, and (3) research facilities licensed by the USDA, before being sold to a [Class B] dealer. They also require Class B dealers to provide written certification of each animal’s background to the recipient. (For additional information about the Pet Theft Act of 1988, Pet Protection Act of 1990, and public perception about pet theft, see Animal Welfare Act: Historical perspectives and future directions (Symposium Proceedings), September 1996, pp. 32–34.27)
The Farm Bill of 2002 included an amendment by Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) to legally redefine “animal” in the AWA to match the 1972 change in the AWR that excludes “birds, mice of the genus Mus, and rats of the genus Rattus, bred for use in research.” This version of the Farm Bill was passed by Congress in May 2002. On June 4, 2004, USDA published the “Final Rule” in the Federal Register to include the language contained in the 2002 Farm Bill excluding mice, rats, and birds bred for use in research from regulation by USDA under the AWA.
Unsuccessful Legislative Efforts
In addition to these laws, there have been numerous unsuccessful attempts at legislation to further protect animals (Table 2-1). On February 28, 2007, Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) introduced a bill (S. 714) that proposed amendments to the AWA “to ensure that all dogs and cats used by research facilities are obtained legally.” The proposed Pet Safety and Protection Act of 2007 (S. 714) was intended to modify the AWA (7 USC 2137) and was part of a series of legislative efforts to ensure that dogs and cats used in research are obtained by appropriate means. The bill never became law, although it received two readings and was referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
Congressional Legislation Proposed (But Not Passed) to Amend Permissible Sources for Obtaining Dogs and Cats for Research, 1997–2007.
The Pet Safety and Protection Act of 2007 became the impetus for Congress to charge the NIH to determine the humane and scientific issues associated with the use of random source dogs and cats in research. In turn, NIH asked the National Academies to assemble this committee of experts to compile a report that addresses the statement of task found in this document.
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AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. Schaumburg, Illinois: AVMA; 2007. http://www.avma.org/reference/marketstats/ownership.asp.
AWI (Animal Welfare Institute). The Animal Dealers: Evidence of Abuse in the Commercial Trade 1952-1997. Drayer Mary Ellen., editor. Washington, DC: AWI; 2007.
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Conn PM, Parker JV. The Animal Research War. New York: Palgrave Macmillan; 2008. p. 224.
Crespi I. Public Opinion, Polls and Democracy. Boulder, CO: Westview Press; 1989. pp. 40–91.
Decker RS, Wimsatt L, Trice AG, Konstan JA. Standing Committee of the Federal Demonstration Partnership. The National Academies; 2007. A profile of federal grant administrative burden among federal demonstration partnership faculty. www.thefdp.org/Faculty%20burden%20Survey%20report.pdf.
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John E. Lewis, Deputy Director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on May 18, 2005, “One of today’s most serious domestic terrorism threats comes from special interest extremist movements such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).…”
Public Law 99-158, Health Research Extension Act of 1985, Sec. 495.
In addition, although difficult to prove, there is a perception that some members of the scientific community resist termination of the use of Class B dealers as a source of research animals because they regard it as another step by the animal rights movement toward eliminating animal-based research altogether.
Animal Welfare Act: Historical perspectives and future directions: Symposium Proceedings, September 1996, p. 19, http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/pubs/96symp/awasymp.htm#pet
Animal Welfare; Standards, Proposed Rule. Federal Register Vol. 55, No. 158 [15 August 1990], 33448–33531; Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 [P.L. 101-624], U.S. Statutes at Large, § 2503—Protection of Pets, Approved 28 November 1990, http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/legislat/pl101624.htm
Random Source Dogs and Cats, Final Rule. Federal Register Vol. 58, No. 139 22 July 1993, http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/legislat/cat1.htm