Signatures Needed After LSU Allegedly Illegally Bought Live Shelter Dogs For Research

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According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Louisiana State University (LSU) veterinary school may have violated the federal Animal Welfare Act by buying dogs, both alive and dead from a Baton Rouge animal shelter.

PETA asserts that a whistleblower reached out to them — a former executive director of the Companion Animal Alliance, a Baton Rouge animal shelter.

That individual reportedly gave PETA documentary proof of an unofficial arrangement between the Companion Animal Alliance and LSU to send the school live and dead animals for use in anatomy courses.

The whistleblower indicated that LSU purchased animal cadavers for $20 each and live dogs for $40 each. PETA claims that at least 70 live dogs were supplied for this purpose in 2018 alone.

Assuming these allegations are in fact true, LSU would have violated the Animal Welfare Act at least 140 times.

The Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. § 2137) states, [It] shall be unlawful for any research facility to purchase any dog or cat from any person except an operator of an auction sale subject to section 2142 of this title or a person holding a valid license as a dealer or exhibitor, pursuant to this chapter.

PETA maintains that Companion Animal Alliance has no such dealer/exhibitor license.

Additionally, the regulation implementing the Animal Welfare Act (9 C.F.R. § 2.31) requires that LSU “make, keep, and maintain records or forms which fully and correctly disclose information concerning each live dog or cat purchased or acquired, transported, euthanized, sold or disposed of by the research facility.”

Despite repeated requests for these records, LSU informed PETA that it had no responsive records for that particular request. The records LSU did release are appended to PETA’s complaint letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which you can see here.

The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine denied PETA’s allegations in a statement, “The cadavers are used to train veterinary students, whose life work is dedicated to serving and saving animals. In some cases, live animals are brought to the veterinary school for euthanasia. In all of these cases, the animals were already scheduled for euthanasia.

The Companion Animal Alliance’s board was not aware that it was sending live dogs to LSU for research until the shelter’s former executive director, Desiree Bender, told them so, according to Christel Slaughter the shelter’s chairperson.

Nola.com was told that the board terminated Bender’s employment in October 2018 and passed a resolution at that time to stop providing animals to LSU or other institutions for research.

Perhaps most distressing is that the shelter apparently provided LSU with dogs that had been impounded by animal control as strays or loose dogs. PETA says that the shelter marked those dogs as “adopted” or “released” in its records.

PETA says one of those dogs, Cajun, still shows up on a pet adoption site as having found a new home, even though the organization has seen evidence that Cajun was one of the dogs sold to LSU.

So is there a problem here or not?

On one hand, we love animals and want medical experts trained and ready to help them when they have veterinary problems. Without question, we need veterinarians and vet techs who are well trained by schools like LSU.

On the other hand, we need those same institutions to abide by animal welfare laws. If LSU did violate the AWA, those practices need to stop immediately.

That said, it’s not illegal for a veterinary school to obtain animal cadavers and live animals for teaching purposes. The only real violation here was the place from which LSU allegedly got those animals. Had they obtained them from a properly licensed facility, their actions would have been perfectly legal which makes it clear that there are still many ways in which the Animal Welfare Act fails to protect animals.

Sign this Care2 petition telling LSU to stop obtaining animals from inappropriate facilities like animal shelters. HERE!

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