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Revision to AVMA’s policy on acquiring research animals gets ax

'Pound seizure' illegal in 17 states

July 13, 2009
By Jennifer Fiala

Seattle — A resolution to revise the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) policy on the use of random-source dogs and cats for research, testing and education never made it to the House of Delegates floor during the group's annual meeting July 9-10 in Seattle.

Instead, it was pulled before delegates could argue its merits. 

There wasn’t much talk publicly on why the resolution was withdrawn, but rumors circulated that deans of the nation’s veterinary medical programs were strongly opposed the initiative. Dr. Mark Helfat, a member of the House Advisory Committee and driver of the resolution, could not be reached for comment by press time. 

The resolution asked that the association revise its policy and oppose the use of live animals procured from animal shelters or from dealers who deliver animals from shelters, stating: “The AVMA should not support a policy whereby animals who are abandoned, neglected or simply lost are relocated to a research or testing facility instead of a loving home or, where necessary, humanely euthanized.

“The present AVMA policy on random-source use runs counter to the public’s concept of an animal shelter and may impede the surrender of pets to such a facility,” the resolution added. 

The document also pointed out that the practice of “pound seizure” — a term commonly used to denote pets originating from a shelter as the source for research or testing — is illegal in 17 states and Washington D.C.

Current AVMA policy, last revised in November 2007, states that the “carefully controlled use of random-source dogs and cats contributes greatly to improving the health and welfare of both animals and human beings."

VIN News Service commentaries are opinion pieces presenting insights, personal experiences and/or perspectives on topical issues by members of the veterinary community. To submit a commentary for consideration, email

Information and opinions expressed in letters to the editor are those of the author and are independent of the VIN News Service. Letters may be edited for style. We do not verify their content for accuracy.


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