Current and Proposed Medical College of Wisconsin Sources for Dogs: Class B Random Source Animal Dealers and Humane Shelters
Dogs used for physiology instruction at the Medical College of Wisconsin are purchased from a Class B random source animal dealer. Class B animal dealers are brokers who sell animals to research facilities, veterinary schools, or medical schools such as MCW. They acquire these animals from a variety of sources, including their own breeding facilities, other breeders, and animal shelters and pounds. They also often obtain animals from so-called “bunchers,” who are notorious for collecting animals from flea markets, newspaper ads, adoption events, and other venues, often under false pretense of providing homes for them. Bunchers also are known to acquire animals by collecting strays and stealing animals from yards and to provide Class B animal dealers with falsified paperwork to meet federal requirements for documentation of sources.
Of the more than 2,000 Class B dealers selling live animals to research and educational facilities such as MCW, only 15 sell random source animals. The number of random source dealers has declined from more than 100 over the past 13 years, and the Humane Society of the United States reports that six of the remaining 15 dealers are under investigation by the USDA for possible illegal activities. Some of the USDA investigations and subsequent actions have been widely and critically reported, including the exposure of the sordid practices of Class B animal dealers in the acclaimed 2006 HBO documentary Dealing Dogs.
MCW’s Class B random source animal dealer is Kenneth Schroeder of Wells, Minn. Mr. Schroeder has been cited for dozens of violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including at least 14 instances of failure to make himself available for inspections, unsanitary and unsafe animal facilities, and inadequate or withheld veterinary care for sick animals.
Federal Legislation to Prohibit Random Sourcing
Class B animal dealers and bunchers are so inextricably linked with animal cruelty and illegal practices that federal legislation is pending that would prohibit U.S. research facilities and institutions from obtaining animals from random source animal dealers. Though not yet passed by either house of Congress, the Pet Safety and Protection Act of 2005 has been proposed by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), who has stated the following:
…some Class B, or ‘random source,’ dealers have resorted to theft and deception to collect animals for resale. In many instances these animals were found living under inhumane conditions.
Another notorious method of Class B random source dealers is the acquisition of animals by means of pound seizure. This practice, whereby animals in shelters and pounds are sold to research and educational institutions and Class B random source dealers, has been universally decried by animal welfare organizations. It is outlawed in 13 states and many cities and counties in other states. Where pound seizure persists, animals become revenue sources for shelters and pounds. Increased rates of animal theft, missing pets, and illegal brokering of animals by shelters and pounds occur. Studies in New Mexico and Washington, D.C., have confirmed that such pound release practices measurably erode public confidence in animal control facilities, resulting in increased animal abandonment and stray animal populations.
PCRM opposes substitution of shelter animals for random source animals for use by MCW, as has been recommended by MCW President and CEO T. Michael Bolger. Both practices deprive 60 dogs per year of the opportunity for adoption, or for at least a peaceful death rather than the fear, mistreatment, and suffering that occur when they become sacrificial animals used for medical student experimentation.