October 26, 2021

Cárdenas Introduces Bill to Require Adoption for Animals Used for Research

The CARE Act would require NIH research facilities to implement post-research adoption policies for animals

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Tony Cárdenas (CA-29) introduced the Companion Animal Release from Experiments (CARE) Act, legislation to require research facilities that use dogs, cats and rabbits for research purposes and receive funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop and implement adoption policies for such animals when no longer used for research. The bill also requires facilities to maintain records of the animals and make them available to the public. 

“It’s simple: if a research facility uses pets for research, then they must work to find them homes,” said Congressman Cárdenas. “We experiment on over 200,000 dogs, cats and rabbits each year. The least we can do is give these living beings a chance at life in a loving home. My bill requires research facilities funded by the NIH to develop adoption policies for those animals. This is part of a larger effort to move away from animal-based testing and research wherever possible and toward more humane and sound scientific research.”

“The Care Act has the potential to save hundreds of animals’ lives by requiring that laboratories across the U.S. that receive public funding have adoption policies in place for dogs, cats and rabbits who are no longer wanted,” said Monica Engebretson of Cruelty Free International. “Organizations across the US are eager to help, and families are excited to provide homes for these laboratory survivors.”

“Our organization knows firsthand that animals released from laboratories can thrive in home environments if given the chance. We thank Congressman Cárdenas for introducing the CARE Act to help ensure that dogs, cats, and rabbits used in laboratories across the U.S. get a chance to have the life they deserve,” said Kimberly Wheatfill, Executive Director, Friends of Unwanted Rabbits.

More than 64,000 dogs, 18,000 cats and 145,000 rabbits are used in experiments in the United States each year. Even when animals survive an experiment, they may be killed and discarded if they are considered no longer useful to the laboratory. 

There are currently 12 states – California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington – that have enacted laws governing the post-research placement for dogs and cats used in publicly funded research institutions. A national requirement is needed to ensure that research institutions that receive taxpayer funding establish adoption policies for companion animals that are no longer used for research, including finding such animals a home and implementing transparent policies concerning the success of such a requirement.  

Congressman Cárdenas is a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus and has historically championed legislation that safeguards the rights and welfare of all animals. Earlier this year, the Congressman reintroduced the Greyhound Protection Act, which seeks to end greyhound racing and live-lure training.