April 9, 2018

Ban on Virginia’s Funding of Category E Studies in Dogs or Cats Now Law

Senate Bill 28 became law in Virginia on Wednesday, April 4 upon Governor Ralph Northam’s (D) signature. It becomes effective July 1, 2018. Simply put, SB28 would outlaw the use of any of the Commonwealth’s funds for studies with dogs or cats that are classified under Category E by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). As a refresher, Category E studies are those that involve pain without analgesics or anesthesia. However, no state-funded research institutions in Virginia have reported engaging in Category E studies with dogs or cats for nearly a decade, calling into question whether this bill amounts to much more than a perceived public relations victory for opponents to animal research. To watch local Richmond, VA media coverage, please click here.

Mandatory Adoption Bill Passes in Maryland; Heads to Governor’s Desk

On Friday evening, the Maryland House of Delegates passed Senate Bill 675. Next stop for the bill is the desk of Governor Larry Hogan (R) who, given the 137-0 passage of the bill in the House, is expected to approve the measure. SB675 will require public and private research programs in the state to adopt out retired dogs and cats to animal adoption groups, even though they have firmly established adoption protocols which have nearly 100% effectiveness. Much to the displeasure of the House companion bill’s sponsor Delegate Ben Kramer (D-19), the legislation was amended to permit researchers to conduct their own adoptions of former research animals and to remove overly burdensome reporting mandates. “If we can’t find out what you’re doing, then we need to stop what you are doing,” threatened Delegate Kramer in his testimony to the House Appropriations Committee earlier this year. Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland – Baltimore removed their opposition to the bill when those amendments were made to SB675.

Thank you to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), the American Physiological Society (APS), and the many members of the research community who wrote to their lawmakers in opposition to this misguided proposal. This marks the fifth year the legislature and animal research institutions in Maryland have wrestled with the issue. It is unclear whether proponents will offer amendments to the bill next year.

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