As an unidentifed woman looks on, Congressman Tony Cárdenas holds an animal at a CARE Act event at the Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill, on 22 September 2022. Photo by Lotus Photography

Congressmen Cárdenas, Calvert introduce bill to encourage the adoption of animals used in research

Today, Congressmen Tony Cárdenas and  Ken Calvert reintroduced the Companion Animal Release from Experiments Act of 2023, legislation to require facilities that use dogs, cats and rabbits for research purposes and receive funding from the National Institutes of Health, to develop and implement adoption policies for such animals when no longer used for research. The bill also requires these facilities to maintain records of the animals and make them available to the public.

“This is a straightforward, common sense bill: if you experiment on animals and receive funding from the NIH, you have to give them every chance to find loving homes where they can live out the rest of their lives,” said Cárdenas. “The least we can do is give these animals a chance at a happy, healthy life. Holding testing facilities accountable for finding animals homes is part of a larger effort to move away from animal-based testing and research wherever possible and toward more humane and sound scientific research.”

“While our first priority should always be to avoid the use of animals in taxpayer-funded research wherever possible, the CARE Act will ensure that any dogs, cats or rabbits used in NIH research studies are offered for adoption,” said Calvert. “I firmly believe that we must have research policies in place that protect animals as well as the taxpayer.”

“The CARE Act has the potential to save hundreds of animals who are all unique individuals with personalities and a desire to live,” said Monica Engebretson, Head of Public Affairs North America for Cruelty Free International. “This bill builds on what 15 states have done by ensuring that laboratories that receive tax dollars allow survivors to be adopted into loving homes no matter what state they are in. We applaud Representatives Cárdenas and Calvert for introducing this compassionate legislation.”

Approximately 200,000 dogs, cats and rabbits are used in experiments in the United States each year. Even when animals survive an experiment, they may be killed and discarded if they are considered no longer useful to the laboratory.

“Our organization knows first-hand that animals released from laboratories can thrive in home environments if given the chance,” said Kimberly Wheatfill, Executive Director, Friends of Unwanted Rabbits. “We thank Congressmen Cárdenas and Calvert for introducing the CARE Act to help ensure that dogs, cats and rabbits used in laboratories across the U.S. get a chance to have the life they deserve.”

There are currently 15 states – California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington – that have enacted laws governing the post-research placement for dogs and cats used in publicly funded research institutions. A national requirement is needed to ensure that research institutions that receive taxpayer funding establish adoption policies for companion animals that increase their likelihood of finding a loving home.

Cárdenas is a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus and has historically championed legislation that safeguards the rights and welfare of all animals. Last year, he held an event with adopted beagles rescued from the Envigo breeding and research facility in Virginia to uplift the importance of this type of policy.

About Cruelty Free International
Cruelty Free International is one of the world’s longest standing and most respected animal protection organizations. The organization is widely regarded as an authority on animal testing issues and is frequently called upon by governments, media, corporations and official bodies for its advice or expert opinion.