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NABR Update – August 15, 2019

August 15, 2019

Research Animal Adoption Bill Introduced in Senate

The AFTER ActS. 2322, has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI). Similar to the version introduced in the House, H.R. 2897, the bill would amend the Animal Welfare Act to require “any department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States that operates laboratory animal facilities or exhibits animals” to  “facilitate and encourage” the adoption of “any animal of the facility that is no longer needed for research and determined to be suitable for retirement.”

NABR is working with members of Congress on both bills to track and moderate any potential amendments. NABR has currently taken a neutral stance on the bills as they do not prescribe the manner or time in which adoptions must take place. However, NABR has expressed concerns about potential future amendments and legislative overreach.

As an important note, NABR encourages members to have a formal adoption policy in place and publicly posted when possible.

NABR Endorses ACLAM Adoption Statement

The American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) has released a position statement on the adoption of laboratory research animals. NABR strongly endorses the points made by ACLAM. The full statement can be viewed here: Once on their site, click the first position paper link, titled “Adoption of Research Animals.” Once clicked, the PDF file should automatically download.

ALDF Loses Legal Appeal over Deeming Animals ‘Individuals’

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) had filed a complaint in 2017 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) seeking “a declaration that the term ‘individual’ in 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(E)(v)(l) includes an animal.” ALDF complained that the USDA was required to expedite their Animal Welfare Act (AWA)-related FOIA requests due to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(E)(v)(l): “failure to obtain requested records on an expedited basis…could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual.”

The opinion of the 9th Circuit Court determined that, in the case of FOIA requests at the USDA, the term “individual” does not include animals and the USDA was under no obligation to expedite ALDF’s AWA-related FOIA requests.

This case is just another in a series of cases that denies credit to the “non-human personhood” and “non-human rights” issues. Other notable cases include PETA’s “monkey selfie” lawsuit and the Nonhuman Rights Project’s failed habeas corpus petition on behalf of elephants.

The full opinion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit can be read here:

EPA Moves to Phase Out Animal Use

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has added a new section to their website regarding the Toxic Substances Control Act and alternatives to animal testing. The site includes steps that the EPA will take to implement their strategic plan for transitioning to non-animal alternatives. This transition has been lauded by animal rights organizations. In April, the EPA hosted a webinaron alternatives in conjunction with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). The Intercept reports that EPA chief Andre Wheeler plans to “cut its funding for experiments on mammals in half by 2025.”

NIH Primate Workshop Postponed

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Science Policy (OSP) has postponed their Workshop on Optimizing Reproducibility in Non-Human Primate Research Studies by Enhancing Rigor and Transparency. A new date for the workshop has yet to be announced but will likely take place in a few months. According to OSP, these months will be used “to ensure we have the appropriate scientific representation and a shared baseline understanding of its objectives in terms of NIH’s broader rigor initiatives.”

PETA Debuts New College Rating Website

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has debuted a new website at which features a map of American campuses that currently use or have used Animal Welfare Act (AWA) covered species. The site includes a “cruelty ranking” the animal rights organization has developed based on National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, USDA citations, and the number of AWA covered species used.

This site appears to be based entirely on information available online or through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In addition to creating target lists, PETA will likely use the site to recruit like-minded individuals from populations on these campuses.

Facing Trial, DxE Co-Founder Steps Down from Leadership

Wayne Hsiung, the co-founder of the radical animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), has been its public face since the organization’s inception. However, in a recent post to their website, Hsiung has stated he is stepping down from all leadership roles within DxE.

Hsiung, who has led the founding San Francisco Bay DxE chapter, has described his time with DxE as “both the best and worst 6 years of [his] life,” and believes that DxE needs to make “significant changes…if we are going to continue our past successes.”

In the face of his trial, Hsiung declares that “When they try to throw one of us in prison, for giving aid to suffering animals, our reply is, ‘Bring it on! We’ve got 10 more ready to step up.’”

Hsiung will be succeeded by Almira Tanner, who has led DxE’s Direct Action and Development committees for over 4 years. In his post, Hsiung also reveals that he would like to alter the focus of his work at DxE to scaling their message and bringing the direct-action movement to Asian and Buddhist communities.

UK Animal Research Numbers Show Mixed Trends

According to annual statistics, research with animal models in the United Kingdom has decreased 7% from 2017 to levels not seen since 2007. Mice, fish, rats, and birds account for the majority of all animal models used in the UK, coming in at 97% of all procedures. Non-human primates (NHPs) and dogs make up only 0.2% of all procedures, with a total of 7,688 animals in those categories. While the trend in the UK has continued downward for overall animal models, there has been an increase in the numbers of dogs and NHPs in UK research. There has been a 16% increase in the usage of dogs and an 8% increase in the usage of NHPs since last year’s annual statistics, while in the same timeframe, there has been a 20% reduction of cats in research. These short-term increases in NHP and dog models mask a decade-long trend in the reduction of those models. Over a ten-year period, there has been a 24% reduction in dogs, a 25% reduction in primates, and a 42% reduction in cats. Interestingly, there has been a 19% increase in the use of horse models over that same ten-year period.

2019 Updates to the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) proposed 2019 updates to the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals are available for comments from AVMA members. The proposed changes, drafted by the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia, reflect recent scientific advances in end-of-life care.  The document will not become official AVMA policy until the comment period ends, all comments have been carefully reviewed, any appropriate changes have been incorporated into the document, and the resulting revised draft has been considered and approved by the governing bodies of the AVMA.

Comments are due no later than August 31, 2019. You can find more details about how to comment here:

Cautionary Tails: FOIA and Other Threats to Sustainability of Animal Research

NABR is pleased to announce that Nancy Halpern, DVM, Esq. of Fox Rothschild LLP Attorneys at Law will present our next webinar entitled “Cautionary Tails: FOIA and Other Threats to Sustainability of Animal Research” on October 29, 2019.

In this presentation, Dr. Halpern will present an in-depth analysis of the how the use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by animal rights organizations poses a threat to the animal research community and how the community should respond to those threats. She will review recent events that have impacted the use of information obtained through FOIA requests and the court cases that have addressed issues related to the FOIA process.

Also, she will review other tactics currently being used by these groups that also pose a threat to the research community and answer your questions that will certainly arise from this highly informative and unique overview of the current environment surrounding the use of FOIA to undermine the sustainability of animal research.

Please join us Tuesday, October 29, 2019, at 12:30 PM EDT to learn about how animal rights organizations have weaponized the Freedom of Information Act to attack the use of animals in biomedical research and the tools that you can use to respond to that attack.

Register here:


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