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An Act Protecting Research Animals

S. 613/H. 901/H. 890: An Act protecting research animals

MSPCA Position: Support
Sponsor: Senator Bruce Tarr and Representatives Carolyn Dykema and Michelle DuBois
Status: Referred to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture

This legislation requires a research institution or product testing facility that intends to euthanize a dog or cat for any purpose other than scientific, medical, or educational research to offer the dog or cat for adoption to an animal shelter or animal rescue organization or through private placement before euthanizing the dog or cat.

This provides an opportunity for dogs and cats to live a life in a home as an adopted pet once their time in the research laboratory has come to an end—an opportunity that each of these dogs and cats deserve.

Current law: Federal law regulates the care and use of research animals while they are in the laboratory, but does not offer any protection to the animal once the research project ends, except regarding humane euthanasia. This legislation addresses the deficiency by facilitating an open relationship between laboratories and non-profit animal adoption organizations and by codifying the option for private placement of retired research dogs and cats where research facilities have established programs.

Proven model for success: There are a number of research facilities across the country that have instituted successful adoption programs for dogs and cats. Additionally, California, New York, Connecticut, Minnesota, Illinois, Nevada, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island, Washington, and Oregon have already passed similar legislation – providing an opportunity for dogs and cats to live a life in a home as an adopted pet once their time in the laboratory has come to an end. People who have adopted dogs and cats formerly used in research attest to the resilience and affection of these animals once they are given the chance to flourish in a home environment.

Flexibility and discretion regarding adoption: The legislation is drafted so that research facilities are not forced to give any animals to specific groups. It would simply require that once an institution makes the determination that a dog or cat is no longer needed for research, is healthy, and doesn’t pose a risk to the health or safety of the public, the research facility must then reach out to an animal shelter or rescue organization to ascertain whether it can assist with placement in an adoptive home, or opt for private placement. This legislation does not require shelter or rescue organizations to take the animals offered by facilities.

Does not impact the conduct of research: This legislation does not impact the research itself; it simply offers these animals the chance to live out whatever time they have left in an adoptive home. Since discretion regarding when to retire and offer animals for adoption remains entirely with the research facilities, there are no concerns of regulatory burdens.

Companion animals deserve the opportunity to live in a home. By formalizing the practice of adoption for animals used in research, this legislation benefits dogs and cats that make or will make contributions to scientific development in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

In the News:

Dogs used in local research labs get chance at new life through adoption, September 15, 2021. 7 News Boston.

Co-Sponsors

Updated 8/11/2021

State Senators:

Name District/Address
Bruce E. Tarr First Essex and Middlesex
Jason M. Lewis Fifth Middlesex
Brendan P. Crighton Third Essex
Sal N. DiDomenico Middlesex and Suffolk
Patrick M. O’Connor Plymouth and Norfolk

State Representatives:

Name District/Address
Carolyn C. Dykema 8th Middlesex
Michelle M. DuBois 10th Plymouth
Lindsay N. Sabadosa 1st Hampshire
Steven G. Xiarhos 5th Barnstable
Colleen M. Garry 36th Middlesex
Lori A. Ehrlich 8th Essex
Jack Patrick Lewis 7th Middlesex
Jeffrey N. Roy 10th Norfolk
Richard M. Haggerty 30th Middlesex
Elizabeth A. Malia 11th Suffolk
David Allen Robertson 19th Middlesex
Adam J. Scanlon 14th Bristol
Tommy Vitolo 15th Norfolk
James K. Hawkins 2nd Bristol
Tami L. Gouveia 14th Middlesex
Peter Capano 11th Essex
Josh S. Cutler 6th Plymouth
Bradley H. Jones, Jr. 20th Middlesex
Patricia A. Haddad 5th Bristol
Thomas M. Stanley 9th Middlesex
David M. Rogers 24th Middlesex
John Barrett, III 1st Berkshire
Kimberly N. Ferguson 1st Worcester
Sean Garballey 23rd Middlesex
Steven C. Owens 29th Middlesex
Daniel M. Donahue 16th Worcester
James Arciero 2nd Middlesex
Jon Santiago 9th Suffolk
Carol A. Doherty 3rd Bristol
Kate Lipper-Garabedian 32nd Middlesex
Paul W. Mark 2nd Berkshire

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