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Give animals a chance for life, says US House bill

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US bill to fund Labor Health and Human Services urges chance for life after the laboratory for animals used in taxpayer funded research

A US House bill to fund Labor Health and Human Services and related agencies for 2021 (LHHS Appropriations Bill) approved on Monday pushes the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to ensure that animals used in externally funded research are given a chance for life.

The bill includes provisions backed by us directing the NIH to do more to advance the use of non-animal methods.

There is currently no federal law that requires animals no longer deemed necessary for research to be given a chance for life after the laboratory. While bills have been introduced in Congress to require humane outcomes for animals used in internal government laboratories, none address what happens to animals used in government research that takes place in, for example, universities.

The LHHS Appropriations Bill addresses this shortcoming by encouraging, “NIH to require grantees receiving extramural funds from NIH for research using animals to implement post research adoption policies that are at least as comprehensive as the NIH intramural policy.”

With no federal requirements governing the fate of animals used in extramural research, eleven states – California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington – have enacted laws governing the post-research placement of dogs and cats used in publicly funded research institutions.  

Monica Engebretson, our Head of Public Affairs for North America, says: “More than 64,000 dogs, 18,000 cats and 145,000 rabbits are used in experiments in the United States each year and much of the research is conducted at facilities that receive public funding from the NIH.

A uniform national requirement is needed to ensure that all research institutions receiving taxpayer funding allow animals no longer used for research to have a chance to find a loving home. The provisions in the LHHS Appropriations Bill are a big step in the right direction.”

We will keep you updated as this appropriations bill moves through Congress and let you know how you can help.