Dog Dealers' Days May Be Numbered

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Science  26 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5969, pp. 1076-1077
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5969.1076

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For more than 4 decades, individuals licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have collected dogs and cats from shelters, breeders, and other sources and sold them to research facilities. Proponents say these so-called Class B dealers provide genetically diverse breeds of various sizes and ages that can't be obtained from traditional laboratory animal suppliers and that are essential in some types of research. But detractors point to a history of misconduct, from stolen pets to animal cruelty, and have been trying for years to shut down the system. Last year, the National Academy of Sciences released a report stating that "Class B dealers are not necessary for supplying dogs and cats for [National Institutes of Health]-funded research" and recommending ways to phase out the system. The report is also giving fuel to a congressional bill that would ban these dealers outright. But many in the research community are fighting back, even those who don't use Class B dealers. Any such ban, they say, would delay important research projects and could shut down others entirely.