I have always had strong feelings about the use of animals in unnecessary, brutal, horrific experiments in the United States, whether in cosmetics labs, medical research facilities, or veterinary schools. The harm inflicted on animals without clear reason or purpose in this country is horrific, and the number of animals who die in pain and suffering annually is truly disgusting—especially since effective alternatives to the use of animals in testing are being developed, and are in fact more reliable than tormenting animals.
It’s my fervent hope that someday in the not too distant future, we will look back on the abuse of animals in labs and be both horrified and glad that this outdated practice has come to an end—and no, this is not an issue that I’m interested in arguing about. I’ve been subjected to endless debates on animal testing, and it’s become one of the topics that I simply don’t discuss with certain people; for me, it cuts extremely close to the bone. I’m aware that tremendous achievements in medicine have been made possible through animal testing, but I’m also aware that humane alternatives exist now, and there’s no reason to continue torturing animals whether it’s in the name of curing disease, testing cosmetics, or conducting pure research.
But one thing I find even more particularly outstandingly repulsive about animal testing is the continued use of Class B Dealers for animals by a number of research institutions, veterinary schools, and other facilities. For those not familiar with the distinction between Class A and Class B Dealers, Class A Dealers only sell animals they have raised themselves, providing purpose-bred research animals to the animal torture industry. Class B Dealers, on the other hand, are involved in the purchase and resale of animals from ‘random sources.’
What are those sources? Animal shelters. ‘Free to a good home’ animals. Strays collected from the streets. Pets stolen from backyards and homes. Flea markets. Auctions. Let me stress this one again: Pets.
Thanks to utterly despicable human beings known as ‘bunchers,’ Class B Dealers can obtain lots of pets taken from their homes. They hold the animals for varying periods of time until they’re sold and transferred to research and testing facilities. While waiting, animals may be denied veterinary care, food and water, comfortable areas to sleep and relieve themselves in, and other basic standards of care. For Class B Dealers, some attrition is acceptable given the low acquisition costs of the animals they buy, and their clients are also willing to accept some deaths on their end as a result of the poor conditions the animals are subjected to between acquisition and resale.
These are loved animals with homes and people who very much want them in their lives. These are animals who will appear on ‘lost pet’ signs and cause endless heartache and grief for the people who love them and spend weeks, months, and sometimes years searching for them. These are animals who are cruelly tortured and killed when they’re no longer useful, and their people will have no idea that any of this is happening.
Thanks to a tremendous amount of hard work on the part of the Humane Society of the United States and other organisations, only six Class B Dealers remain today. Half of them are under investigation for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. While animals processed by Class B Dealers represent a relatively small percentage of those used in experimentation and research, it’s deeply troubling that such businesses continue to remain open despite their history of being unable to meet basic legal standards for handling animals. And it’s telling that it has taken so long to close them down, despite clear evidence of their activities.
A growing number of veterinary schools and research institutions refuse to source animals from Class B Dealers, which is a good start, but it’s high time for these dangerous and hateful organisations to be shut down for good. It’s the first step in slowly pushing for a cruelty-free approach to research and testing in the United States. As alternatives to testing develop and we make it harder to source animals for use in research, universities, veterinary schools, research facilities, cosmetics companies, and other organisations will have a growing incentive for developing and adopting alternatives that are humane, effective, and compassionate.
So what can you do about Class B Dealers? Contact your legislators, especially if they sit on committees related to medical science and research or the USDA, which is the entity that would have power in this situation. Explain, politely, why you’re opposed to Class B Dealers, expressing your concerns about the source of the animals they sell and the conditions animals are kept in at their facilities. Ask for a push to put an end to Class B Dealers altogether, making the United States safer not just for pets, but also for strays, shelter animals, and other creatures that deserve a more dignified life.
Whether or not you support animal testing, I think you can agree that what Class B Dealers do is horrific and wrong, and I appeal to you on that basis: please, join me in taking a stand against against this awful abuse of animals, and put an end to Class B Dealers for good.