The aim of the 1896 “Gallinger-DC” bill and passage of the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act in 1966 was to promote humane and appropriate use of research animals. The importance of research using animals have often been emphasized by scientists, physicians, and research hospitals. However, a well-known American politician is taking animal safety to the next level as he presents a new law that would shield an unconventional test subject for lab trails.
Mike Bishop, a U.S. Republican Representative, is on a mission to protect animals, especially cats, from becoming test subjects for the United States laboratories. Reports suggested that 2.3% of animals (out of 820,812 total number of animals) used for trials are cats. Recently, Bishop introduced a legislation that would protect cats from being a subject to different laboratory experimentations.
The name of the bill is “Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now Act in 2018” known also as the KITTEN Act. It aims to stop the exploitation of cats and kittens in laboratory research.
Jimmy Panetta of California, a Democratic Representative, is also on board because he will co-sponsor the said act. The KITTEN Act’s first order of business focuses on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It will forbid the department to use cats and kittens as lab rats. Bishop and Panetta believe that experiments done to cats cause the animal to feel pain and stress.
According to Bishop, “The USDA must stop killing kittens, and I hope to work collaboratively with the agency towards that goal.”
What Made Bishop to Introduce the KITTEN Act?
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” This proverb best describes Bishop’s action of creating the bill.
The USDA’s taxpayer-funded research is already enough reason for the Republican Representative to pass a bipartisan law.
A taxpayer watchdog group called the White Coat Waste Project collaborated with Bishop about an experiment from the USDA’s Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. The watchdog group says that the experiment is causing the deaths of hundreds of cats and kittens.
In a document submitted by the White Coat Waste Project, the lab raises different types of kittens. Researchers and scientists feed the cats with Toxoplasma-infected meat. They would then kill and incinerate the cats.
Justin Goodman is the Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy for the White Coat Waste Project. He said that since 1982, the Maryland-based laboratory has been utilizing cats for research about Toxoplasma gondii parasite. Goodman, however, obtained documents after filing a request for the Freedom of Information Act last year of December.
Toxoplasma is a parasitic disease that causes health problems. The parasite affects pregnant women and people with a weak immune system.
The Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory is primarily doing the research because they want to make food safer and protect people as well.
A spokesperson stated, “The Agricultural Research Service-USDA (ARS) makes every effort to minimize the number of cats used to produce eggs required to research one of the most widespread parasites in the world. The cats are essential to the success of this critical research. “
The representative also added that cats are essential to exploration. They believe that the animal is the only one that can excrete the environmentally resistant stage of the parasite.
The aim of the USDA’s Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory is to lessen the spread of Toxoplasma. The Maryland-based lab inspects research animals regularly. Additionally, they comply with best management practices when it comes to animal research.
In spite of its great purpose to help out, Bishop reminded the laboratory to use taxpayer dollars more effectively, efficiently, and humanely.
Without the expose from the White Coat Waste Project, Bishop would not be able to pass the bill.