21 September 2010

Hundreds of dogs and cats rescued from animal testing lab

A huge victory was achieved this week when nearly 200 dogs and 54 cats were rescued from a North Carolina animal testing facility. The lab closed its doors after an undercover investigation revealed apparent abuse of the animals by facility workers. The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) partnered with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) worked quickly to place all the animals in shelters and rescues, with the hope that they will finally find loving homes after their horrible ordeal.

"This event serves as dramatic testament to what can happen when the humane community comes together to oppose cruelty," says AWI President Cathy Liss. "We applaud the dedicated efforts of animal welfare advocates who stepped up to take in these animals, and hope that the exposure of this situation will underscore the need for stricter enforcement to protect animals in research facilities."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) conducted the initial investigation that exposed the cruelty at Professional Laboratory and Research Services, a rural lab funded by pharmaceutical companies to test insecticides and other chemicals used in companion animal products. For nine months, a PETA investigator worked undercover at the facility, and shot heartbreaking video showing animals screaming in pain during the procedures, as well as employees kicking, throwing and dragging petrified dogs, violently slamming cats into cages and screaming obscenities at the animals for showing fear or noncooperation.

Following the investigation, PETA filed formal complaints with federal and state agencies (including the U.S. Department of Agriculture), and submitted evidence to the local prosecutor's office. Shortly after, the USDA inspected the facility and began its own investigation. In the meantime the laboratory agreed to surrender all of its dogs and cats and to stop research at the facility.

The deadline for placing the released animals was Friday, September 17th, and AWI was alerted only three days beforehand. Agencies scrambled to place the animals in shelters to avoid the chance of any of them being euthanized, and after several days of AWI workers calling on their vast network of resources, over a dozen shelters and rescue groups from New Jersey to Florida were enlisted to house them.

"AWI is extremely grateful to PETA for its initial investigation, to enforcement personnel at the USDA for taking swift action once the situation was revealed, and to all the animal advocates who worked overtime to get these animals placed in shelters," added Liss. "Through the actions of many, hundreds of animals were rescued and given the chance to receive the care and compassion all animals deserve."

Bev Hahler | @redhotvegan
Bev, a vegetarian since she was 14 years old, became more interested in veganism several years ago after studying Agro-business as part of an Ecology degree. Follow Bev on her blog and Facebook.

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Photo credit: AWI