Laboratories that conduct research on dogs and cats would be required to put the animals up for adoption after the study work if a bill passes the Nevada Legislature.
Democratic Sen. Mark Manendo and two-thirds of other state lawmakers are sponsoring SB261, which was discussed in a hearing Tuesday in the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
“Let’s move some of these precious babies from incarceration to liberation,” Manendo said, noting that about 65,000 dogs are used in testing nationwide each year. “This bill simply gives innocent dogs a second chance.”
The bill would require labs to offer animals to a shelter or rescue organization before euthanizing them as long as they are healthy enough to go to a new home. The measure would also require labs to use each animal for no more than two years.
Labs have pointed out that the bill would require more animals because each animal would be used for a shorter period of time. Manendo, however, said it’s preferable to “set the prisoners free” rather than have some animals spend their entire lives as research subjects.
The bill is supported by the Beagle Freedom Project, an initiative of the Animal Rescue Media and Education advocacy group. Beagles are the most commonly used dogs for testing.
While some research animals are placed in homes after the work is done, the process is informal.
“Whether or not a dog or cat gets a chance at a life outside of the lab is completely discretionary and often dependent on the volunteer time of a staff member,” Shannon Keith, president of Animal Rescue Media and Education, said in prepared testimony.
Representatives of the Nevada Veterinary Medical Association said they support the idea of putting healthy dogs and cats up for adoption after research work is done but have concerns about the bill.
They say the two-year timeframe would limit labs’ ability to test the long-term effects of drugs and surgical procedures or conduct full studies in the field of geriatrics.
The organization also questions the need for a law to promote adoptions, saying the same goal could be accomplished through individual working relationships between labs and rescue organizations.