U.S. Senators Reintroduce The AFTER Act; A Bill To Ensure That Retired U.S. Government Lab Animals Find Forever Homes
Last week, United States Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Gary Peters of Michigan reintroduced the Animal Freedom from Testing, Experimentation, and Research (AFTER) Act. The bipartisan legislation would ensure that every federal agency that uses animals for research has policies in place to facilitate the relocation of retired, healthy lab animals to private homes, animal rescues, or reputable sanctuaries.
White Coat Waste Project, a taxpayer watchdog group that has secured lab animal retirement policies at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) in recent years, applauds Senators Peters and Collins for “introducing the AFTER Act to ensure that healthy animals in all federal labs get a second chance when experiments end.” As per the organization, the AFTER Act would extend these policies across all federal agencies, “an effort supported by 68% of taxpayers.”
“There is no reason regulated lab animals that are suitable for adoption or retirement should be killed by federal agencies,” Senator Collins said in a statement. “Our bipartisan legislation would continue to build on the successful policies at the DOD, VA, FDA, and NIH while directing all other federal agencies to facilitate and encourage the retirement of animals to help ensure they are placed in loving homes or sanctuaries.”
The AFTER Act provides flexibility for each agency to devise its own policy, with the goal of ensuring that such animals, whenever possible, are retired and not killed. The legislation also requires that animals be evaluated by a licensed veterinarian and pronounced both mentally and physically healthy before leaving an agency, helping to ensure a smooth transition to a new environment. Finally, the bill encourages federal agencies to work with non-profit organizations to help place retired animals in sanctuaries and shelters across the country, not just those closest to the research facility.
In fiscal year 2019, the federal government experimented on approximately 38,000 animals, mainly cats, dogs, monkeys, and rabbits, for research purposes. Currently, since federal agencies do not have formal retirement or adoption policies on animals that are no longer needed in research, many of them are killed. Recent peer-reviewed studies indicate that research animals that are adopted, however, often thrive in their new environments.
“Ensuring that animals no longer used in federal research can be adopted into loving homes is simply the right thing to do,” stated Senator Peters. “I am proud to partner with Senator Collins to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation that would encourage federal agencies to collaborate with the shelters that can provide these animals a safe, nurturing environment for the next phase of their lives.”
In 2013, Senator Collins helped spearhead an effort to allow for the retirement of hundreds of primates that were formerly used in NIH experiments.
Shockingly, An estimated 100 million animals– including: dogs, cats, rats, mice, fish, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, monkeys, and birds are killed in U.S. laboratories for experimentation and animal testing each year.
WAN and Peace 4 Animals sees a future where the archaic outdated model of animal testing will be a thing of the past.
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