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The Pet Safety and Protection Act

Class B Animal Dealers are Out of Business!

Since 1988, LCA has Been Fighting Relentlessly on the Front Lines for this Major Victory

2023 Omnibus Act Included Permanent Language that Eliminates Class B Dealers

12/29/22 VICTORY FOR THE ANIMALS! - LCA has achieved a huge win for the animals with President Biden signing the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 (commonly called the "Omnibus Act"), on December 29, 2022, which contained an LCA-championed provision to permanently eliminate Class B dealers in the U.S. Read press release here.

LCA has aggressively pushed the passage of the Pet Safety and Protection Act (PSPA), however, LCA was successful in getting key language from the PSPA included in the final Omnibus bill. The bill finally contains permanent language blocking the licensing and relicensing of Class B dealersSince 2016, language has been included annually in the Omnibus Act that essentially stopped the renewal or issuance of Class B dealer licenses, thus halting their operations. However, this language was not permanent and had to be included every year to prevent Class B dealers from operating.

The words "and thereafter" included in Sec. 733 of the 2023 Omnibus bill made the defunding of Class B dealer licenses permanent. No longer does LCA have to make sure, each year, the language gets included in the Omnibus bill.

Sec. 733 of the bill states, "In this fiscal year and thereafter, and notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds made available by this Act may be used to carry out any activities or incur any expense related to the issuance of licenses under section 3 of the Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. 2133), or the renewal of such licenses, to class B dealers who sell Random Source dogs and cats for use in research, experiments, teaching, or testing."

While we successfully achieved elimination of Class B dealers on 12/29/2022, we continue to urge passage of the stand alone bill for the PSPA, which was re-introduced by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) in January 2023, because we have learned through our decades of advocacy that nefarious actors will always look to exploit loopholes to get around the law. 

Passing the PSPA would mean that any research facility receiving lost or stolen household pets would also face punishment. Putting the onus on research labs to ensure they are acquiring animals lawfully would provide an added layer of protection for household pets to prevent them from being sold into research.

 

History of Class B Dealers and the Pet Safety and Protection Act

The Pet Safety and Protection Act, H.R.3187, (PSPA) was federal legislation that would protect companion animals from being stolen and sold for research experiments. LCA first started investigating pet theft and the sale of stolen animals to research in 1988.  The PSPA would put an end to the USDA licensed Class B dealers that are behind the pipeline of stolen dogs to research. Read the PSPA Congress fact sheet here.

The PSPA was reintroduced into Congress on May 13, 2021, by House Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA-14) and Chris Smith (R-NJ-4) and referred to the House Committee on Agriculture. On July 1, 2021, the Ag Committee referred the bill to the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.

Class B animal dealers are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sell random-source dogs and cats to animal research facilities. However, because they are obtained randomly, these animals are often stolen companion animals or strays. LCA has proven through multiple undercover investigations that Class B dealers obtain dogs and cats through various methods, including pet theft and answering "free to good home" ads in local newspapers. B dealers and their middlemen cohorts, called bunchers, acquire dogs and cats cheaply to sell them for great profit to research facilities. LCA has routinely documented that animals in the care of Class B dealers suffer in horrendous housing conditions. 

 

Celebrity Sign-on Letter in Support of the PSPA

In September 2022, a letter authored by Kim Basinger and signed by 34 other celebrities and influential people was sent to the House of Representatives calling for the passage of the PSPA. Clint and Alison Eastwood, Billie Eilish, Charlize Theron, Kristen Bell, Eddie and Jill Vedder, and Kris Jenner were among the celebrities who signed onto the letter. The letter highlights lost and stolen companion animals being sold to research is a problem over 50 years old and calls on Congress to enact a permanent solution by passing the PSPA. Read the celebrity letter here.

 

What is a Class B Dealer?

Class B dealers are licensed by the USDA to sell cats and dogs to research facilities. However, they routinely violate the Animal Welfare Act by acquiring dogs and cats through fraudulent sources and abusing them once they are in their care. LCA's undercover investigation documenting this abuse is the subject of HBO's documentary, Dealing Dogs. It is virtually impossible to know the true history of dogs and cats acquired by Class B dealers. Each time a Class B dealer sells a dog or cat to a research lab, a strong possibility exists they are a lost or stolen family pet.

 

What are Bunchers?

Bunchers are people who "bunch" or collect dogs and cats randomly to sell to Class B dealers. Bunchers frequently obtain dogs and cats through dishonest methods. LCA has documented Bunchers stealing companion animals and reselling them to Class B dealers. They also acquire animals from well deserving people by fraudulently answering "free to good home ads." 

 

The Problem

Animal research facilities who obtain cats and dogs from Class B dealers have no way of knowing if random source dogs and cats were stolen or came from other unscrupulous methods.

Investigations by LCA into Class B dealers have revealed dogs and cats living in horrendous conditions and severe animal neglect. Dogs who are sick or injured are denied proper veterinary care; packed into overcrowded kennels where fighting can occur; and have limited access to food and water. They are left to all weather extremes and sometimes die from exposure.

The USDA has stated they can't guarantee dogs and cats used in research experiments are legally acquired and they spend countless taxpayer dollars each year unsuccessfully trying to regulate Class B dealers.

 

The Solution: Passing the Pet Safety and Protection Act

The Pet Safety and Protection Act would prohibit Class B dealers from selling Random Source dogs and cats to research facilities and in turn hold research facilities responsible if they purchase Random Source dogs and cats. The PSPA, in all the years prior, has had bipartisan support.

 

The Long History Behind the PSPA

The PSPA was first introduced into Congress in 1995 and every two-year session since then, and has failed to pass.

PSPA Failed to Pass in the 2006-2007 Farm Bill

The PSPA was included in both the House and Senate versions of the 2006-2007 Farm Bill. Then Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, Tom Harkin (R-IA), removed the PSPA language from the Farm Bill and it was not in the final version passed.  Instead, language was included directing the National Institute of Health (NIH) to commission a report on the use and feasibility of Random Source animals used in research.

The National Research Council released their report, sponsored by the NIH, on May 29, 2009, entitled "Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random Source Dogs and Cats in Research." The report found it was not necessary to obtain animals from Class B dealers for National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded research. All members of the research committee, as part of their deliberation, viewed Dealing Dogs, HBO’s American Undercover documentary profiling LCA’s undercover investigation into the most notorious Class B dealer, C.C. Baird. LCA is recognized on page 83 of the report

Years prior to this report the NIH had already banned the use of Class B animals in all intramural research projects, but In reaction to the report, the NIH stopped funding all extramural research on dogs and cats purchased from Class B dealers as of October 1, 2014.

 

LCA's Involvement with Pet Theft and the PSPA

LCA has been investigating Class B dealers since 1988. Investigations have uncovered elaborate pet theft rings; severe neglect of animals by Class B dealers; and improper euthanasia techniques. Investigations by LCA have resulted in Class B dealers and Bunchers being convicted of felonies; serving time in prison; and Class B dealers permanently losing their licenses.

In 2006, Dealing Dogs, an HBO documentary was released. The documentary followed Pete, a whistleblower working for LCA, as he worked for C.C. Baird, a notorious Class B dealer who sold random-source dogs to labs in Arkansas. The investigation exposed horrendous animal abuse at Baird's kennel, including an elaborate pet theft ring, neglected dogs left to languish in kennel cages who died from neglect; and dogs being shot in the head. The documentary received widespread critical praise and won a Genesis award for Outstanding Cable Documentary. The documentary was presented at a Congressional briefing which helped move the PSPA as part of the Farm bill mentioned above. 

 

Learn More           

Watch the HBO Documentary Dealing Dogs.  The Emmy Award Nominated Documentary profiles LCA's undercover investigation and bust of the most notorious Class B dealer, C.C. Baird.


Read about the undercover investigation into the nation's most notorious dog dealer, C.C. Baird

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