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'Pound Seizure' for Research

June 24, 1986

The decision of our county Board of Supervisors to continue the practice of "pound seizure"--where animals are sold from county shelters for laboratory experimentation--was a crushing disappointment to those of us who attended the hearing. I would like to briefly state some of the reasons why pound seizure should be discontinued:

--Having been trained as a "classical" researcher, I can find no legitimate reason for using animals of unknown genetic background and environmental experience in research. The benchmark of scientific experimentation is control, and the lack of control that must accompany using such animals results in poor research with spurious results.

--As a clinical psychologist I have found pets to have psychotherapeutic benefits for people. It is shamefully wasteful to kill and discard animals with therapeutic potential when their placement with new owners could be beneficial.

--As an author and researcher on the "human-animal bond," I have consistently found data indicating that people form exceptionally strong emotional bonds to animals. It is therefore repugnant to realize that someone's lost "child" may end up on a researcher's surgical table.

--As former director of program development for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, I often dealt with the anguish of persons forced to give up their pets to our shelter. The relief such individuals expressed, when told that pound seizure was against our policy, was striking.

I personally feel that shelters that participate in pound seizure betray a public trust. Ending pound seizure would not negatively impact upon medical or other scientific research, since the number of animals taken from shelters for research purposes is so low.

Los Angeles City animal shelters abandoned pound seizure some time ago, and charitable shelters refuse participation. When will the L.A. County Department of Animal Control, and our county supervisors, enter the 20th Century?


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