Updated: Apr 5
“How do you think humans got so cruel?” I asked Makili. He gazed at the ocean, then back at Turner and me. “We forgot,” he said, letting the words linger. “We forgot our responsibility. And we forgot that we are as equal as any living thing within the chain. There’s no hierarchy in this. Nah. We are part of the same family: living things." -Susan Casey, Voices in the Ocean
Animal testing and animal research is a complicated, unavoidable part of pharmaceutical research. The FDA mandates animal testing for many "drugs, vaccines and other biologics, and medical devices, mainly to determine the safety of the medical product." Luckily, the FDA supports efforts to reduce animal testing. The organization researches and continues to develop methods to replace animal testing, however there are still products and devices that require bio compatibility testing on animals.
Historically, research animals were euthanized at the terminus of their research careers, regardless if the animals were healthy. In November 2019, the FDA updated their policies to encourage re-homing the animals.
In the years leading up to the policy change, several states encouraged adoption instead of euthanasia. The National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veteran Affairs both recently enacted similar policy changes. In 2019, U.S. Senator Susan Collins introduced Animal Freedom from Testing, Experiments and Research (AFTER) Act, which would put a nationwide policy in place regarding animal adoptions after a life in the lab.
Collins stated that, "There is no reason why regulated research animals that are suitable for adoption or retirement should be killed by our federal agencies.... I’m pleased that the FDA has joined the NIH and VA in enacting a lab animal retirement policy.”
"Julie Germany, executive director of the White Coat Waste Project, adopted a dog named Violet from a government-funded lab. At first, Violet was extremely anxious, having grown up in a lab and never seen the outdoors, Germany tells The Dodo’s Arin Greenwood. Violet hadn’t been house trained and needed a diaper, and was taught by the family cat, Bert, how to climb the stairs. But by 2017, Violet became well-adjusted to life in a loving home."
Are you interested in opening your home to a former research animal in need of a loving family? Check out these resources!
Bayer Adoption Program: Bayer is a research organization that partners with a variety of adoption agencies to rehome their animals.
New Life Animal Sanctuary: Based in Elsinore, CA, this sanctuary brings in former research animals to live at their sanctuary. The organization is working towards caring for former research primates. In their first month, New Life rescued over 300 rodents from a closing psychology program at Calif. State University-Northridge and adopted all of them, plus the offspring of pregnant animals, to loving homes.
The Beagle Freedom Project: Beagles' calm disposition makes it ideal both as a pet and a laboratory research subject. This organization is dedicated towards adopting out former research beagles into loving homes. The organization informs adopters that laboratory dogs can be difficult — they aren’t used to loving humans and, in most cases, have never been outdoors. On the other hand, their transformations and reaction to their new homes will make up for any challenges.
Kindness Ranch: This animal shelter rehabilitates and adopts out former research animals, including dogs, cats, sheep, horses, and pigs. Those who are unable to be adopted out due to sickness or injury are able to live the rest of their days in comfort and safety of Kindness Ranch. Animals brought into the ranch are given space, care, and opportunities to learn how to properly socialize before they are adopted into their forever homes.
Have you adopted a pet before? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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