In the 1960’s, animal welfare was a key social, economical and political issue which plagued American families in addition to common political and social activists of the time. From dogs to cats to guinea pigs, animal welfare became a popular movement during this transitioning time in American history. Out of the concern for animal welfare during scientific purchase and study, the federal government signed into law the Animal Welfare Act. When considering a profession in scientific research or study, understanding the guidelines of the Animal Welfare Act will ensure compliance with federal regulation in the humane care and treatment of animals of all breeds including those purchased from licensed animal brokers and dealers.
Currently monitored and enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Animal Welfare Act, at the time of signing in the 1960’s, was originally designed to protect the humane treatment of animals while in scientific study; such as in the use of drug testing by pharmaceutical companies. Over the years, the Animal Welfare Act has evolved but continued to provide the very basic and essential guidelines to the humane treatment of animals when used as part of a scientific research program. When working in a profession which involves the purchasing and brokering of warm blooded animals, it is imperative, as a research technician, to understand the very essential components of the requirements as stipulated under the Animal Welfare Act.
Of these guidelines, the Animal Welfare Act specifically outlines, the terms and conditions under which a dog or cat should be housed and protected when found stray. Under Chapter 54 of the Animal Welfare Act, Section 2158 (a), states the dog or cat, when found stray, must be cared for and protected by the entity for no less than five days so as to allow for the original owner to recover the lost pet or allow for the pet to be adopted by a new owner. Beyond this five day period, the dog or cat may be sold to a licensed dealer and, in turn, purchased by a scientific research center for study in animal behavior, testing in experimental drugs and even purchased for use in government services.
As a research technician, purchasing, using or housing warm blooded animals, it is imperative to understand the exact location from which the animals were purchased. Purchasing dogs and cats only from a licensed animal broker, with documentation of the length of housing, will ensure compliance with the federally regulated provisions of the Animal Welfare Act.
For more information regarding the regulations of the Animal Welfare Act, visit www.nal.usda.gov.