For more than two hundred years in this country, roaming animals have been picked up and impounded in facilities that came to be called “pounds.” Impounded animals who were not claimed by their guardians or adopted by new guardians were put to death due to either overcrowding or because of medical/behavior problems. As a result, pounds and later shelters were considered a ready source of “surplus” animals who could be used in scientific research. At the same time, shelter policies regarding the appropriate disposition of animals should reflect the best interests of the animals as well as the need to maintain the public’s trust in the shelter system. Releasing shelter animals for use in research, i.e., “pound seizure,” undermines these goals. As of 2004, fourteen states and numerous local communities prohibit pound seizure either by state law or local regulation.
The ASPCA is opposed to any form of pound seizure in which shelter animals are transferred or sold for use in scientific research or experimentation. It is inappropriate to use former pets for these purposes, and it breaks down the public’s faith in the humane sheltering system. People who find an animal, or who cannot keep their own pet, are less likely to bring that animal to the local shelter if they believe he or she may go to a research or testing facility. The result may well be abandonment of the unwanted pet.