Pound Seizure Ended, Reinstated in Houston
Pound seizure, the sale of animals—usually dogs—from shelters for experimentation, is universally condemned by animal welfare organizations and has long been an issue with which PCRM has been involved. In late March, PCRM received a call from activists in Houston working to pass a resolution ending the sale of animals from the county shelter to medical schools and laboratories. The Harris County commissioners, split on the issue, were being pressured by dealers and laboratories to continue to allow the cheap sale of dogs from the pound. Houston was the last major metropolitan area in the nation that sold shelter animals to experimentation.
PCRM fired off letters to editors of local papers and provided local contacts a statement to be read to the commission immediately prior to the vote. The statement explained that neither medical science nor animal control is served by selling former household companions to medical centers. The animals are subjected to the stresses of shipping, confinement, and lack of social interaction even before they are actually used in the classroom or laboratory. These animals are commonly used in cruel and unnecessary live teaching laboratories in medical schools, which is not only bad for the animals, but a poor teaching method as well.
Good news came when, by a three-to-two vote, the Commission decided to end the sale animals from the Harris County shelter. This was an unexpected victory, and it took the animal experimentation industry by surprise. However, they soon rallied back and campaign contributions may tell the tale. County Judge Robert Eckels—who had voted with the majority—reversed his stand, causing the sales to resume. Eckels attributed his reversal to meetings with Baylor College of Medicine officials. As the Houston Chronicle pointed out, “Friends of Baylor Med, a political-action committee, also has been a frequent contributor to Eckels’ campaign fund.” Local humane organizations blasted Eckels’ about-face and vowed to keep fighting to end pound seizure in Houston once and for all. PCRM sent letters of protest to the County Commissioners and Judge Eckels and will help keep the pressure on to regain the short-lived victory.