We are all aware that animals have been used in science to make advances that would otherwise have been impossible. The use of mice, cats, pigs and dogs in experimenting has given scientists the chance to investigate diseasess, devlope drugs and test new methods of medication. The biology fields of genetic engineering and pharmacology are especially depended on animal testing. In February's issue Science discusses the controversy over using animals bought from class B animal dealers acquiring their stock from"random sources". The American Physiological Association have said actions to shut down these dealers is "premature" and that "it would be enormously disruptive" to the science community. Some say these animals offer a chance to research otherwise unavailable conditions because labs cannot get genetically unique specimens from traditional breeding facilities..
In 1966 Lyndon Johnson signed the Laboratory Animal Welfare act that created new policies concerning the humane treatment of animals being sold to laboratories. This act made two classifications for businesses selling laboratory dogs and cats, A and B. Class A dealers are predominately corporate organizations that breed dogs, cats and other animals on site for selling to labs. Class B licenses are issued mainly to small dealers who collect and sell animals from shelters, other breeders or even other dealers. This type of acquisition is said to be from "random sources". The class B dealers have been doing very well since the act was passed. However in the 1990's these dealers came under fire from animal humane societies as abused and stolen animals continued to show up. In 2003 HBO did a special on animal abuse that featured footage from an infiltrated class B dealers business. Since then the USDA has stepped up efforts to enforce the laws in place for class B dealers that require inspections every year. Due to this effort numbers of class B dealers have dropped from over 200 to only 11. These 11 dealers cannot meet the demand for genetically diverse dogs and cats needed at research companies. They currently supply 3% (3,000) of the 90,000 dogs and cats used in research today.
Personally I think it's regrettable but essential for animals to be used in scientific research. Should the USDA shut down class B dog and cat dealers disrupting a vast number of scientific discoveries being made right now or is this a necessary evil ? Its always awful to see videos of animal cruelty on farms or pounds, but without this cruelty would we have enough food? Would we be so far along making medical advancements? I don't think we would. According to science "Large-chested Dalmatians have helped doctors develop some of the first artificial-heart devices and lung-transplant procedures. And cats and dogs gathered from the general population harbored a variety of genetic diseases and infections that led to insights into everything from sleep apnea to AIDS." All of us in the biology fields will at some level most likely depend on animal testing, what do you think?