Now You Can Adopt Former FDA Lab Animals

Giving research animals a new lease on life.



Medical research is helping people live healthier and longer lives. Before these new tests, medications or technology can be used on people, they have to go through a lot of clinical trials, and they are usually tested on animals.

While many people are opposed to animal testing for things like cosmetics and shampoos and some people are opposed to all, the ethical treatment of these animals after the research is over is something, we can all agree with. Now, retired lab animals that were used for research by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are going to have a much better life.

A recent policy change by the FDA will now allow the adoption or transfer to sanctuaries of healthy animals, like dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, and farm animals. According to The Hill, animals were previously routinely put to sleep after being used in research, so the new policy really gives these test subjects a new lease on life.

Every year, the US Department  of Agriculture estimates that 800,000 animals are used in federal lab facilities every year. The FDA officially wants to reduce the amount of animals it uses but the agency reports: “there are still many areas where animal testing is necessary and on-animal testing is not yet a scientifically valid and available option.” Over 25 percent of these animals have experienced pain during the research according to FDA records.

While the change was made in November 2019, it was not publicly disclosed until late February 2020. “The FDA has an internal policy for the placement of research animals after study completion that has not been made public,” Monique Richards, an agency spokeswoman, told The Hill.

The FDA's move comes after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) adopted this policy. These changes were the result of an animal welfare initiative that was introduced in 2019 by a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Senator Susan Collins of Maine.

“There is no reason why regulated research animals that are suitable for adoption or retirement should be killed by our federal agencies,” Collins said in a statement to The Hill. “I’m pleased that the FDA has joined the NIH and VA in enacting a lab animal retirement policy.”

The bill which has a companion bill in the house would require federal labs to place certain classes of animals into rescue shelters and retirement sanctuaries when the research is completed but it has not advanced out of committees.

"For years, I’ve worked to end outdated government animal testing opposed by most Americans, and have been disturbed at how many animals are killed at the end of research even though there are individuals, rescues, and sanctuaries ready to take them in,” Representative  Brendan Boyle from Pennsylvania and the sponsor of the House measure, said in an official statement.

Hopefully more federal agencies like the Environmental Protection agency and the Department of Agriculture will follow suit. Allowing these animals who have suffered pain during testing should be able to happily live out the rest of their days.

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