By Sen. Doug Mastriano and Tristan Daedalus
Many Pennsylvanians might be surprised to learn that the national movement to prevent the abuse of dogs and cats in cruel and wasteful experiments began in the Commonwealth. Back in the 1960s, the first federal law protecting animals used in labs was prompted by a scandal in the Lehigh Valley involving pet dogs who were stolen and trafficked to deadly experiments in New York City.
Since then, there’s been good progress in PA and elsewhere to curb wasteful government experiments on dogs and cats. But, as White Coat Waste Project’s viral #BeagleGate campaign and its other investigations have exposed, much more work is needed because tens of thousands of dogs and cats are still suffering in labs across the country, including here in the Keystone state.
This news may come as a shock to many. Fortunately, we have a plan to cut this canine cruelty and cat-astrophic waste.
Federal reports we’ve analyzed show that in 2021, over 4,000 dogs and cats were imprisoned in over a dozen Commonwealth labs including at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, and Temple University. There is even a Lancaster location of the disgraced industrial puppy breeder Envigo that abused and neglected dogs it sold to Temple and other labs for taxpayer-funded experiments.
Records illustrate that over 1,100 of these dogs and cats were subjected to significant pain and distress. In some cases, pain relief was withheld from animals intentionally.
Many of these horrible experiments on puppies and kittens, and the labs where they’re conducted, are funded with federal and state tax dollars, even though a supermajority of taxpayers oppose this cruel testing.
We’re going to bat for animal-lovers and liberty-lovers across the state.
The landmark legislation we’re working together to pass would ensure taxpayers aren’t forced to bankroll egregious and wasteful animal cruelty. We’re aiming to defund painful experiments on dogs and cats (which Virginia did a few years ago and federal lawmakers are working on now), prohibit the cruel practice of de-barking dogs so they can’t cry out in the lab, and cut off state funds for dog and cat labs that violate the law. We also want PA to join 15 other states (and numerous federal agencies) with policies on the books allowing dogs and cats in labs to be retired and adopted out to taxpayers when testing ends.
In addition to these animal protection measures, we want to boost transparency about government spending on this waste and abuse. The new legislation directs labs experimenting on dogs and cats to publicly disclose if they were taxpayer-funded and how much public money they spent (which is required for animal labs by some federal agencies already), and requires the PA Treasury to issue an annual report on taxpayer funding for dog and cat experiments.
Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent and they shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill for cruel and wasteful experiments on dogs and cats that they oppose.
Let’s make history in PA once again and lead the nation on efforts to protect our four-legged family members from government-funded abuse.
The solution is clear: Stop the money. Stop the madness.
Sen. Doug Mastriano represents Pennsylvania’s 33rd Senatorial District, covering Adams and Franklin counties.
Tristan Daedalus is a resident of Adams County, a former Congressional staffer, and the Government Affairs Director at White Coat Waste Project.