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Pound Seizures: Not So Humane

Posted by at 5:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (15)


Pound Seizures: Not So Humane by Scott VanValkenburgHave you ever thought about the words “animal shelter” and how they apply to the thousands of diverse organizations that house dogs and cats? My old dictionary (you might remember those books that people consulted before Wikipedia and the Internet came along) defines “shelter” as “a place of refuge or safety.” Some 30 years ago, I was working at a humane society that declared that it would do everything possible to ensure that no animal who entered our shelter would ever suffer again; but we had a dirty little secret.

No, not euthanasia. People knew that animals who were not reclaimed as strays or adopted into a new home might be euthanized. What they didn’t know—and what made all of us who worked there shudder—was that on a regular basis, a vanload of vivisectors from the local university arrived to take away dogs who were slated for euthanasia. Sometimes I had to wait while these white-coated individuals led dogs I had lovingly handled in previous days away to be treated like test tubes. They only selected the friendly animals, of course, and there were simply more of those in our community than there were good homes for them. While my fellow shelter workers and I often cried over having to euthanize animals to ensure that they (or others not yet in our care) didn’t suffer, we felt like hypocrites letting live animals be carted off to laboratories.

Schools such as the University of Utah, as well as other facilities, use pound seizure to obtain inexpensive test subjects. Some states allow Class B dealers to obtain dogs and transport them across state lines; these shady folks supply private companies. Now, “seizure” isn’t an antonym of “shelter,” but when a living being who is under the protection of a refuge is removed for purposes that are not in his or her interests, it is the biggest betrayal of the concept of sheltering that I can come up with. Who wouldn’t provide humane euthanasia to his or her beloved dog or cat rather than let the animal be subjected to electrodes,  allow the muscles to be hacked from the animal’s thighs, or let the animal be kept in a barren kennel for months or years on end?

Ohio is one of the states whose laws say that animal shelters “may” turn over stray animals to vivisectors, so everyone at our animal shelter was thrilled when new management closed the doors to the vivisectors forever. There are now 13 states that ban pound seizure and only three states that mandate it—and thanks to PETA, there is now hope that Utah’s mandatory pound-seizure law will be overturned. Massachusetts has one of the strongest pound-seizure laws in the country (it forbids the import of pound animals and protects animals in Massachusetts shelters), and I was part of a group that successfully turned back an effort by vivisectors there to overturn the law.

Within five years of the passage of the 1983 ban, we became aware that experimenters who were visiting Beacon Hill to complain that our pound-seizure law was hindering their research and education efforts were starting to persuade some legislators. Good people at Tufts University brought together vivisectors and animal advocates, and voilà, suddenly there was a humane alternative for animals in the pound. Tufts now has a lovely program in which veterinary students gain surgical experience by performing spay and neuter surgeries on animals in shelters who are then adopted out by shelters that can’t afford to have a vet on staff.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way—wouldn’t you agree?

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    kerry says...

    February 4th, 2010, 6:46 pm

    Our little local group was able to work with the County shelter and some vet students from WSU to convince spokane county to stop sending dogs from the county shelter to WSU for experiments. I think we succeeded mainly because the amount of money they were receiving wasnt worth putting up with the ruckus we were raising. We just kept after them using the angle that people are going to abandon their dogs rather than delivering them to the shelter if they know their dogs might be sent to be used in painful experiments

    Kate says...

    February 5th, 2010, 5:25 pm

    How can we get a list of the states that have banned pound seizure?

    carole obrien says...

    February 5th, 2010, 5:30 pm

    I would really love to know where poor little ROBERT is now is he still alive ?????

    Ashlie says...

    February 5th, 2010, 5:55 pm

    I can not believe this kind of thing goes on in america!!!! What an outrage! If people only counted all the ways animals CONTRIBUTE to our lives…they should learn to apperciate!!!!!!! I am so glad peta is here to give all the animals a voice. More people need to be educated about this kind of ABUSE and stop turning their backs just because it is inconvienent to do something about it!!!!! If everyone stood up for animals once we could make a big difference.

    McKinney says...

    February 5th, 2010, 9:13 pm

    Are u saying Ohio is still doing this?

    Marian says...

    February 5th, 2010, 9:21 pm

    I work at a Humane Society and, while i don’t know of these particular laws in our state, we would NEVER hand our animals over to such people. I would rather euthanize them then ever send them to such a place.

    josef zach says...

    February 6th, 2010, 11:08 am

    I think that this “vivisection” word means cutting open LIVE animal! I can’t think of a more horrific Doctor Frankenstein scenario if I tired. disgusting and inhuman behavior on the people who do this. a living Hell on the animals subjected to this shit. sorry for that last word but I couldn’t think of a more applicable one to use.

    Kathryn says...

    February 6th, 2010, 12:44 pm

    The best thing that could happen on the planet would be that the dangerous human species would become endangered. Animals are hororable – humans are not.

    Kathryn says...

    February 6th, 2010, 12:46 pm

    Correction to spelling . . . . . Animals are honorable – humans are not.

    Linda Estrada says...

    February 6th, 2010, 3:17 pm

    I agree 100% with Ashlie. I say “Abuse an animal….Go to Jail” NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!!!!

    Ruth says...

    February 7th, 2010, 12:08 am

    Genesis 1:28 Further, God blessed them and God said to them: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.”

    God was saying care for my creation NOT ABUSE, KILL, MISTREAT OR MAKE SUFFER.

    Helen says...

    February 7th, 2010, 2:27 am

    abuse an animal go to hell!!!!!

    Scott says...

    February 7th, 2010, 1:26 pm

    Hi Kate,
    A list of the states and their policies on pound seizure is at http://www.helpinganimals.com/Factsheet/files/FactsheetDisplay.asp?ID=33

    Carole, thanks to folks who responded to PETA’s action alert, Robert the cat has been removed from the lab and placed in a home, as noted at http://prime.peta.org/2009/12/prime-victory-robert-retired-from-experiments-at-university-of-utah We’ll not rest until the shelter animals are safe from the vivisectors, and until non-animal methods shut down animal tests forever!

    danielle cartisser says...

    February 8th, 2010, 1:37 pm

    Hi I was thinking about the idea of a shelter&the definition- I seriously doubt people would surrender an animal, Especially a pet that perhaps like many in these ‘humane animal shelters’ if they were aware there was ahuge chance that they could be taken away2 unimaginable atrocities, that u once tried ur best2care 4.
    Its interestin they don’t do this2 human lifers who have been placed there4 violent murders, rape&such, have no chance@benefiting the world aren’t used4testing especially its usually tests performed on animals that are experiments that are almost always4human beneficiary. I personally believe a life is a life&we don’t have a right2torture&kill4the mere fact people tell themselves ‘its ok cuz its a less than a humans.” I cud go in2a tangent about that but lemme reel bak in my 1st point I wanted2make- I doubt people wud turn over as many animals if they KNEW wat happened2most. I’m even appauled tht places euthinize only aftr 4 DAYS! With all the money used2keep people alive that have HURT SOCIETY but get an unending amount of funding2keep them alive w/ridiculous comforts& then these INNOCENT ANIMALS SUFFER&HAVE THEIR LIVES TAKEN SO QUICKLY, LIVES TAKEN SO INSISNIFICANTLY…it crushes ones heart. 1last thing2add: even humans can donate organs or whole bodies2science9r2benefit anothers life but even an animal’s owner/surrenderer should have a say in if they’d approve of such “seizure” cud take theirs4such a painful future..my guess is they wud say NO.

    Shaynie Aero says...

    February 23rd, 2010, 10:58 pm

    Imagine taking these little kids lost dogs and kittens, and torturing them at the Uni. of Utah….and other horrible labs!It makes you sick and makes your skin crawl just to think about i!

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