A California State Assembly member introduced a bill last month that aims to put healthy research animals up for adoption instead of euthanizing them.
Assemblymember Matthew Dababneh, D-Encino, introduced Assembly Bill 147 in January, which requires that all research institutions in California that receive public funding for research offer healthy dogs and cats that were used in research to nonprofit adoption agencies rather than euthanizing them.
The bill, co-authored by Assemblymember Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, and Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, among others, has so far attracted bipartisan support in Sacramento and has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Higher Education. The previous version of this bill failed to pass the Assembly Appropriations Committee last year, but Chris Ramsey, Dababneh’s press secretary, said the bill has more support this year within the legislature.
According to Dababneh, most research institutions in California already have well-established rules regarding the treatment of healthy dogs and cats post-research, and AB 147 will make these rules official statewide.
UC spokesperson Brooke Converse said in an email that all campuses except for UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara and UC Merced continue to use dogs and cats for research and teaching purposes. Dogs and cats are only euthanized as per guidelines set by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, she said, and in studies where euthanasia is not required, animals may be put up for adoption after a veterinary evaluation.
This bill will primarily affect smaller institutions, such as community colleges, where dogs and cats are still commonly used in research, Ramsey said. According to numbers released by Dababneh’s office and verified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1,475 dogs and cats were used for research and/or teaching purposes in California in the 2012 fiscal year. Three percent of these animals were used at private research universities, 34 percent at UC campuses, 63 percent at community colleges and none at CSU campuses.
Research involving these animals is becoming less popular, according to Paul Mueller, the director of communications at UC San Diego’s Office of Research Affairs.
“It’s become very rare due to ethical issues,” he said.
Dababneh compared the importance of AB 147 to Senate Bill 270, a bill passed last year to phase out single-use plastic bags in retailers throughout California. He said that AB 147 seeks to codify what many research institutions already do and that the bill will not impede research activities and may even let institutions save on euthanasia costs.