New legislation in California, Senate Bill 252, also known as the PET Act (Prevent Extraneous Testing), if passed, would end the needless suffering of cats and dogs used for toxicity testing in the state.* State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has introduced the legislation to prohibit the use of dogs and cats for toxicity testing for products such as pesticides, food, and drugs. (The bill exempts the testing of pet products and biomedical products.)
Dogs and cats are frequently used to test consumer products, such as cosmetics and food additives, as well as new medications**. These research animals are often exposed to chemicals via forced ingestion or inhalation. In some cases, they are intentionally given doses already known to be fatal. They may experience symptoms such as vomiting, convulsions, respiratory distress, rashes, and paralysis. In some cases, they are killed for further analysis. What’s more, laboratory dogs and cats spend much of their lives in cages and are deprived of social contact with people and other animals.
Of course technological advances now offer alternative testing methods that can spare the use of animals and can even be more accurate, making the ongoing process of using live dogs and cats unnecessary.
“Dogs and cats should not be subjected to unnecessary and inhumane toxicity testing that doesn’t have useful health outcomes. We should make sure that if testing is done on dogs and cats, that it is humane and has an actual medical value. Animals deserve better treatment and should not be subjected to harmful testing simply because they can’t say no.”
-California State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)
*According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are approximately 600 dogs located at 10 facilities in California that perform toxicity testing. The dogs, usually beagles, are bred specifically for research.
**Studies show that animal toxicity tests are unreliable, do not ensure human safety, and have serious scientific limitations. Nearly 90% of drugs that are first tested in animals end up failing when later tested in humans–often due to unanticipated toxicity.