Stop Pound Seizure and Terminal Surgery in Alabama

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We need your help to establish a statewide law for an issue that most in Alabama do not even know exist! We are against pound seizures and terminal surgeries of companion animals in shelters. We do not want to see these animals used as practice tools  for surgery and treatment by student veterinarians. The dogs and cats who share our homes are family. And we protect family! A strong message needs to be sent far and wide, bringing awareness and stating that animal cruelty practices are immoral and unacceptable.

“Pound seizure” is the practice by which animal shelters sell or release stray, lost, or abandoned dogs and cats to laboratories or to animal dealers who sell the animals to laboratories for use in experiments. The animals that are usually sold to the laboratories are the ones stolen from backyards, strays and the ones who are no longer productive for breeders. Pound seizure is illegal in Denmark, England, the Netherlands, and Sweden. In the U.S., there is no federal law prohibiting pound seizure, but Washington, D.C., and 18 states have banned it. Most other states have no law prohibiting pound seizure, leaving it to the discretion of each animal shelter or to local government agencies.

What is a terminal surgery? Also known as non-survival surgeries, these are surgeries in which an animal is anesthetized, a surgical procedure is performed, and at the end, the animal is euthanized rather than recovered. These are usually relatively painful procedures that are not necessary for the animal's sake (i.e. at the U of MN, our one terminal small animal surgery lab consists of a gastrotomy, an intestinal resection and anastamosis, and a cystotomy, which are all procedures performed to correct problems that the animals used for the lab don't have). Most schools consider it unethical to perform unnecessary surgical procedures, then put the animals through a painful recovery. So instead, terminal surgeries are performed on either shelter dogs or research dogs that were due to be put to sleep. The ultimate outcome (put to sleep) is the same, but the animals provide a learning experience for a vet student before being put to sleep. They are given the same pre- and intra-operative care that we would give an owned animal, including pain control, inhalent anesthesia, IV catheter, and fluids.

What if our animal family members become lost? What will happen to them while we are frantically searching for them? Once the brief holding period in the pound is over these animals can be sold for a pittance to be used as experimental research subjects that will not make it out alive!  Hopefully, we will never hear about stories of our companion animals in the story below:


Remembering a victim of POUND SEIZURE - A Victim of Pound Seizure:
What We Did to "Rodney" by ~Peter M. Henricksen, D. V. M. - Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)

We called him Rodney. He was a tall, gangly, flea-bitten shepherd mix. One ear stood up, shepherd style, and the other flopped over and bounced against his head like a rag doll when he ran. His head and feet were too big for his thin but muscular body. . Altogether, he wasn't much to look at, one of the thousands of dogs facing the world without the luxury of an owner.

I was in my third year of veterinarian school and he came from the local dog pound. For the next quarter, four of us students would practice surgery techniques on him, the first of our small animal surgery training. The first thing we did was neuter him, a seemingly benign project, except it took us an hour to complete the usual 20-minute procedure, and an anesthetic overdose kept him out for 36 hours. Two weeks later, we did an abdominal exploratory, opening his abdomen, checking his organ inventory, and closing him again. This was the first major surgery for any of us, and with inadequate supervision, we did not close him properly. By the next morning, his incision had opened and he was sitting on his small intestine. Hastily, we sewed him up again, and he survived.

The following week, again when he was under anesthesia, we broke his leg and repaired it with a steel pin. After this, Rodney seemed in almost constant pain, his temperature rose, and he didn't rebound so easily as he had in the past. His resiliency gone, despite antibiotic treatment, he never recovered.

The quarter was ending, and Rodney's days were numbered One afternoon we put him to sleep. As the life drained from his body and his eyes lost their focus, my attitude toward animal research began to change.

I am a scientist, weaned on the scientific method. But after 15 years in the veterinary profession, I now believe there are moral and ethical considerations that outweigh any benefits. Because we happen to be the most powerful species on Earth, we humans have the ability- but not the right- to abuse the so-called lower animals. The ends do not justify the means.

~Peter M. Henricksen, D. V. M.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)

Alabama law also allows individual counties and municipalities to decide whether or not to participate in pound seizure.  

WRBL News reported an anonymous graduate from College of Veterinary Medicine  on the "trauma" she says she and her classmates experienced during surgeries they were required to perform on healthy animals sent from a county in Alabama. "There have been eye enucleations (i.e. removal), there are amputations, there have been where they'll place a foreign body in the dog's throat, wait a couple hours, and then we have to go in and retrieve the foreign body," says the unnamed woman. She says she witnessed the university accept an average of 15 dogs every two weeks. After a seven day quarantine, the experimental surgeries would be held on Wednesdays. She says by Friday, the dogs would be euthanized.

 This practice is allowed all over Alabama, but it is kept a secret until others come forward with the truth. In order to ensure the safety and well being of dogs and cats, laws requiring the release of animals to labs or universities need to be changed, and new, prohibitive laws need to be passed in Alabama.  There are many alternatives for upcoming veterinarians to learn without operating on live animals.

It is time to stand up and give voices to the voiceless, will you be that voice?  Please share this petition far and wide as this should be banned everywhere!


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