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Ask NIH to Stop Funding Research on All Dogs

Ask NIH to Stop Funding Research on All Dogs

Under the terms of a plan implemented in 2013, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has ended its funding of random source (Class B) dogs in research. The animal protection community welcomes this news as Class B dealers have a history of mistreating animals, falsifying documents and failing to identify the sources for their dogs, as outlined in a 2009 report from the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR), Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random-Source Dogs and Cats in Research.

According to the NIH, as of October 1, 2014, researchers are prohibited from using NIH funds to procure or support the use of dogs from Class B dealers. Dogs used in NIH-supported research may only be from USDA Class A dealers or other approved legal sources.

However, while the NIH’s decision is a positive one in the context of phasing out Class B animal dealers, this is not necessarily good news for dogs.

In 2010, shortly after the ILAR report was released, the NIH solicited bids to provide up to 1,000 dogs per year from a Class A animal breeder to replace the dogs no longer purchased from Class B dealers. The NIH specified that these dogs be “mature, large out-bred hounds or mongrel dogs that are socialized and tractable.” The contract was awarded to Covance, a biomedical research company with a history of Animal Welfare Act violations.

So in 2013 when the NIH announced that it is fully implementing a plan to prohibit the expenditure of funds for the acquisition of dogs for NIH-supported research from USDA Class B vendors, they already had a plan in place and a large inventory of purpose-bred dogs with Class B-like characteristics available for their researchers to use for experimentation.

This means that random source dogs will no longer be used for NIH-supported research, but the use of dogs will continue unabated, despite the preponderance of evidence that canines are a poor model for human disease. While the dogs being used in experiments will no longer be under suspicion of having once been someone’s beloved companion animal, the NIH has failed to recognize that no dog should be subjected to harmful experimentation, whether he came from a home, an animal shelter, or a breeding facility. The exploitation of “man’s best friend” in the name of science is an indictment of our society’s morality and undermines our fundamental value for compassion.

Please contact the Director of the NIH, Dr. Francis Collins, and ask that the NIH begin now to phase out the exploitation of all dogs for research.

Call to action:

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  • Dr. Francis Collins


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Please end the use of all dogs for NIH-funded research

Dear [Decision Maker],

While I am pleased to learn that the NIH will no longer support the use of random source dogs in NIH-funded research, I am dismayed that the agency did not use this as an opportunity to replace the use of all dogs used for experimentation. Instead, the NIH has implemented a plan to breed up to 1,000 dogs per year to be used for experimentation-- despite the lack ofassurance that there is any justifiable need for this research.

As a strong proponent of advancing science without harming animals, I am appalled that the NIH continues to support the cruelty of vivisection on a cherished species when innovative scientific methodologies are being developed and implemented that are more relevant and predictive of human responses. The continued use of dogs in harmful research, toxicity testing or in education undermines public support and confidence in our scientific endeavors.

I respectfully ask that you stop implementing the plan for breeding and using dogs for research purposes and begin the process of phasing out any exploitation of dogs from the design of experiments approved and funded by the NIH. Your leadership on this issue is critical for the reformation of the NIH's policies regarding their use of dogs.

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]