In-Depth: Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced this bill to direct all federal agencies to develop and maintain policies allowing the adoption or retirement of dogs, cats, primates, rabbits, and other regulated animals no longer needed for federal lab research:
“There is no reason animals that are suitable for adoption or retirement should be killed by our federal agencies. Our bipartisan legislation continues to build on the successful policies at DOD, VA, and NIH while directing other federal agencies to facilitate and encourage the retirement of animals to help ensure they are placed in loving homes or sanctuaries whenever possible.”
Original cosponsor Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) adds:
“Every animal deserves the chance to be adopted into a loving, caring home. It’s past time that we give research animals an opportunity to find a new home after they’ve been used in federal research labs.”
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), also an original cosponsor of this bill, calls it “common-sense, bipartisan legislation that would strengthen animal welfare protections.” She adds that it would “help ensure we’re making every effort to give retiring animals the opportunity to live out their lives in caring homes.”
Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), sponsor of this bill’s House version, says:
“For years I’ve worked to reduce outdated government animal testing opposed by most Americans, and have been disturbed at how many healthy animals are killed at the end of research even though there are individuals, rescues and sanctuaries ready to take them in. These animals deserve a second chance and the AFTER Act will ensure that federal agencies have plans in place to identify suitable homes for dogs, cats, monkeys and other animals that survive government experiments.”
The White Coat Waste Project, which opposes federal animal testing, supports this bill. Its president and founder, Anthony Belotti, says:
“On behalf of our more than 2 million members in Maine, Michigan, Arizona, New Hampshire and beyond, we applaud Senators Collins, Peters, McSally and Shaheen for introducing the AFTER Act to ensure dogs, cats, primates and other animals get a second chance at life outside of a lab when government experiments end.”
This legislation has three bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including two Democrats and one Republican. Its House companion, sponsored by Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), has 40 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 34 Democrats and six Republicans. Neither bill has received a committee vote.
Of Note: In 2018, there were about 50,000 animals protected by the Animal Welfare Act (mostly dogs, cats, primates, and rabbits) being held in federal labs. Currently, because federal agencies don’t have policies on adopting or retiring animals that are no longer needed in research, many animals are killed at experiments’ conclusion.
In 2018, President Trump signed a FY2018 government funding bill that defunded dog experimentation at the VA, save for rare instances with secretary-level approval. As a result of this and advocates’ campaigning to end VA testing on dogs, existing dog testing at the VA has already been cut by around 75%, and several projects were cancelled before they began. All told, the White Coat Waste Project reports, “no new dog experiments have been approved since July 2017, and only a few remain in Richmond and Cleveland.”
In April 2019, the Dept. of Agriculture announced its decision to end testing on cats. It also adopted out the 14 cats remaining in its laboratory.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / RaffaeleM)