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A new animal rights group is urging lawmakers to pass a series of bills targeting the use of laboratory animals in biomedical research.

Just last week, a group of lawmakers, at the urging of animal rights group White Coast Waste, sent a letter calling for the release of information on retired research animals.

The letter was mailed to the Department of Interior, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Smithsonian Institution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Defense (DoD).

"The adoption of former research animals is already a common practice across the United States. Research institutions work closely with staff and trusted adoption groups to ensure that specialized attention is given to devoted these animals the right home the first time," Michael Dingell, the Vice President of Government Affairs at the National Association for Biomedical Research, explained to ALN.

"The creation of laws mandating research animal adoptions creates an unnecessary middle man, raises research costs, and imposes undue stress on the animal, taking away time that the animal has in a loving, caring home."

White Coat Waste's goal? "To STOP taxpayer-funded experiments on dogs, monkeys, cats and other animals, we must stop wasteful government spending. Our approach? Drain the swamp: cut federal spending that hurts animals and Americans," according to their website.

The group bills itself as a taxpayer watchdog group.

This is just one of the many laws the animal rights group is calling for. Other federal bills in motion include:

  • FACT ACT (H.R.816): which would require federal agencies to disclose the number of animals used for each study.
  • PUPPERS ACT (H.R.3197): which limits the funding given to the VA for research involving dogs.
  • KITTEN ACT (H.R.5780): which limits the use of cats in "painful and terminal laboratory experiments" for the study of animal parasitic diseases, specifically toxoplasmosis, at the USDA.

"These laws are used as a jumping off point for people who are aleady opposed to animal research. Once a law like this gets on the book, it will likely stay there," Dingell added.

In 2014, White Coat Waste took aim at the NIH when the agency called for the use of more female animals in biomedical research to address sex differences in preclinical research.

Laws "promoting" research animal retirement have already been passed at the state level in Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, California, Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, and Nevada. There is also currently pending legislation in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

"We see pending legislation being introduced to many states where little animal research is conducted. There have been laws introduced to Hawaii and Maine, where we believe they are trying to hit the low-hanging fruit. These groups hope that if enough state laws are passed, federal legislation will soon follow," Dingell said.

"We're just scratching the surface on the totality of the efforts against research committed by animal rights groups. This should serve as a wake up call for research institutions to get their heads out of the sand and become more involved in the public policy process," Matthew Bailey, the President of the Foundation for Biomedical Research, cautioned ALN.

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