Pound Seizure Laws: Michigan Considers Ban

DogUnclaimed dogs and cats generally leave an animal control facility one of two ways: adoption or euthanization. But in states allowing “pound seizure,” some animals might exit to laboratories instead.

Although at least 13 states have banned this practice, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Utah still have pound seizure laws in place, according to this 2006 article from the Animal Law Coalition community on the Best Friends Network. Pound seizure laws require the release of animals to certain types of research or educational facilities on request. States which prohibit release of shelter cats and dogs to research and testing facilities are Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.

Michigan is also considering a statewide ban (House Bill 5263); Jackson County, Mi., passed a local ban last year. American Humane offers additional information about H.B. 5263.

Although my state, Illinois, is not listed as a state with an official ban, Section 11 of our Animal Control Act specifies animals not adopted or released to a humane society or rescue group will be euthanized.

After contact has been made or attempted, dogs or cats deemed adoptable by the animal control facility shall be offered for adoption, or made available to a licensed humane society or rescue group. If no placement is available, it shall be humanely dispatched pursuant to the Humane Euthanasia in Animal Shelters Act.

Some states leave pound seizure decisions to municipalities, or allow pound seizure without requiring it. For example, Wisconsin 174.13 includes the following text:

Any officer or pound which has custody of an unclaimed dog may release the dog to the University of Wisconsin System, the Medical College of Wisconsin, Inc., or to any other educational institution of higher learning chartered under the laws of the state and accredited to the University of Wisconsin System, upon requisition by the institution. The requisition shall be in writing, shall bear the signature of an authorized agent, and shall state that the dog is requisitioned for scientific or educational purposes. If a requisition is made for a greater number of dogs than is available at a given time, the officer or pound may supply those immediately available and may withhold from other disposition all unclaimed dogs coming into the officer’s or pound’s custody until the requisition is fully discharged, excluding impounded dogs as to which ownership is established within a reasonable period.

Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine presents a variety of arguments against pound seizure. The unknown medical history of shelter animals could affect the results of experiments, and pound seizure may negatively impact public confidence, perhaps increasing the number of animals left on the street rather than in shelters. Barnard also mentions a “trend…for medical schools to move away from the use of animals in education.”

A discussion on the ethics and parameters surrounding the use of laboratory animals is beyond the scope of this entry –- and the pound seizure issue. Pound seizure discussions focus on how such animals are acquired. However, in my search for a resource for readers curious about the laws in their states, I believe this to be the most comprehensive: the Ban Pound Seizure site, operated by the American Anti-Vivisection Society.

Photo: Artfavor.com

13 Responses to “Pound Seizure Laws: Michigan Considers Ban”

  1. janet says:

    I am ashamed of my state (minnesota) I remember being in a building at the University of Minnesota on World Day for Lab Animals protesting research on animals. The entire building smelled of anal gland residue expelled from the poor animals at time of intense fear. It was the most creepy place I have ever been in. It was just like the smell of a dead skunk. Pound seizure should be banned forever.

  2. Velvet's Dad says:

    I hope I live long enough to see the end of using domesticated animals for research. The crux of the problem is this. Even if you are a believer in a divinity, it is “God” that has dominion over the earth, not humankind. I do not believe that animals exist for human exploitation. Especially when computer modeling can–and does–do the job. It is only by the grace of life itself that we have been born human and not lower animal. Which of us would trade places with a dog or cat–if we had such an option?

  3. catmom5 says:

    As a Michigan resident I will definitely be contacting my representatives and senators about this ban. It needs to happen!!

  4. Lis says:

    Computer modeling can’t do everything; some animal research is absolutely necessary. However, for many years ethical medical research has been moving in the directionof minimizing the amount of animal testing and experimentation to the absolute minimum, finding other was to do the research when possible–and improving computer modeling so that it can displace animal research in more and more instances.

    We’re not yet at the point where we can eliminate animals from medical research altogether–but the animals used should never be former pets. The inhumanity of that is obvious, but on top that, it isn’t even good research practice, to use random anmals of unknown medical and genetic history.

  5. Tanya says:

    I was going to say much the same as Lis (but she said it better and more suscintly).

    I am not sorry to say I put human life above that of animals, and if ethical studies can be done to insure that we have both curative and preventative medications, that products we *think* are safe, really are safe - and yes, that we learn more about ourselves (studies on language so-called lower species, studies on cognitive development, etc) then you have to do the studies.

    We must stay diligent that studies are 1) ethical, 2) as minimized as possible towards suffering of the animals, and 3) truly necessary.

  6. Velvet's Dad says:

    I beg to disagree. Cats and dogs don’t exist for us to experiment on. There’s a moral issue here. And no, I don’t think human life is necessarily more worthwhile than animal life. Humans have the intelligence to make rational decisions. Reason and compassion compel us not to use domesticated animals for research.

  7. Lynn says:

    I have said for decades that all experimental research should be done on hard core criminals in the prison system. If that was done, not only would we have species-specific results from which to base our medical studies, but we might find that it is potentially a deterrant to committing crime.

    How dare we assume that animals should be exploited and harmed in the name of vivisection for human benefit.

  8. Lis says:

    1. Hard-core criminals are also not a good population base for most medical research. Just really seriously not.

    2. Vivisection–now, there’s a nice hot-button word, that has absolutely zero to do with serious modern medical research is conducted.

    I worked for several years for an R&D company that had an animal facility. The sacrifice of even a mouse was not a frequent event and was taken very seriously. The rabbits got adopted out as pets after their research stints were over. The goats ddn’t even live at the facility; they lived in bucolic comfort on a farm.

    Most medical research involving animals is not what you think it is. It’s not a life you want for former pets. Some animals do get sacrificed. Some research is more unpleasant than other research. And not every company is careful and responsible–and if it’s not obvious, the companies and institutions that will buy/accept pound seizures are not the most careful and responsible ones in how they conduct their research. But these days, the first step in doing any research on live animals is proving that there is no other way to get the answers needed, and the second step is proving that the protocol you’ve designed minimizes pain or discomfort to the animals involved.

  9. Velvet's Dad says:

    I am singling out dogs and cats. I don’t think they were put on this earth for humans to either exploit or experiment on, even if the goal of that experimentation is a “better” or longer life for humans. To think otherwise strikes me as arrogant. Why must we humans think we should live forever? Why must we put ourselves on a pedestal all the time above all other living creatures, particularly when we have wreaked as much harm and devastation on the world as we have in trying to improve it?

  10. Lis says:

    For many years I enjoyed the companionship and affection of a cat who didn’t die in kittenhood because of medical research that wasn’t done for the benefit of cats. I’m not willing to write off thirteen years of her life as illegitimate because of that.

  11. Jake says:

    What about Vet and Technician schools? They need animals to practice their skills on- or would you rather their first patients be your own pets? At the school I went to, we took pound animals that were destined to be euthanized. We spayed and neutered them. Performed bloodwork, fecal tests and urinalysis. Treated any maladies. Tattooed and microchipped them, then spent a good chunk of our free time looking for great new homes. Many of these animals were adopted by students and faculty. Yes, some unadoptable animals were put to sleep- but not without a lot of thought and heartache.

    I just wanted to point out that vet and tech programs would likely fall under the same legislation as other research facilities. I would rather these abandonded pets be used than more unwanted dogs and cats be bred for research purposes. Ultimately fewer animals will be put to sleep and it gives some another chance at a forever home.

  12. Lis says:

    Jake, if the animals are being essentially adopted into a program where they’ll be cared for and ultimately adopted into forever homes, that is of course different. The difficulty is that many of them are going into programs where they’ll be used for experimentation. and euthanized.

    And another way for student vets to get clinical experience is by the schools offer low-cost clinics, where the students do the treatment, but under the supervision of an experienced, qualified vet. When I was a starving college student, I got dental care at a dental school clinic that way, and plenty of people who love their pets but have difficulty with the vet bills would be happy to take advantage of such a clinic.

  13. Ginger says:

    I am 100% committed to animals as sentient beings who should be respected and treated with the same compassion that we humans expect for ourselves.
    Animals are incredibly smart, loyal, much closer to God than any person will ever hope to be, and the best friends to millions of people who cherish their beloved family members.
    They do not speak English, but they speak a MUCH HIGHER language that I believe is missed by a few ignorant, arrogant and pathetic Sociopathic humans who don’t care about anyone else. [Nazi experimenters in white coats come to mind with this definition of a Sociopathic, Narcissistic “scientific researcher.”]
    It is time to stop the stupidity. It is time to wake up and realize that “dominion” is defined as “Responsibility” rather than total destruction of our earth and its inhabitants.
    The horrifying cruelty that goes along with the unnecessary and downright ignorance of using animals for testing is being discovered daily by people who otherwise had no idea that our scientific community is modeled after the Nazi German, Allopathic, Chemical Warfare paradigm that has NO regard for any form of life– whether it be human, or animal or even a body of water or the air you breathe.
    Our lives deserve better than to live with the cruelty of any animal being hurt for any reason.
    This must stop and it will stop because more people are standing up for the rights of all living beings to live in peace.
    Science, by definition, should not equate to diabolical, evil practices.
    Instead, science must be in harmony with all of life in order to fully understand the true miracles of how our bodies are designed to work in synchronicity with our environment.

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