From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1993:

The term “pound seizure” may be
unfamiliar to animal protection people who
have been involved for less than a decade,
but the battle over it is heating up––again.
The most bitterly fought issue in
humane work for decades, “pound seizure”
is the practice of laboratories requisitioning
dogs and cats from shelters for research use,
which is known to discourage many people
from surrendering animals to shelters. After
the National Society for Medical Research
formed in 1945 to promote pound seizure, it
became mandatory in Minnesota (1948),
Wisconsin (1949), and New York (1952).

South Dakota, Connecticut, Ohio, and
Iowa also enacted mandatory pound seizure
before 1960. The American SPCA endorsed
it, as a presumed humane alternative to
euthanasia (a position since revoked), while
the then-New York-based American
Humane Association split over the issue.
Anti-pound seizure factions quit both groups
to found the Animal Welfare Institute in
1951, the Humane Society of the U.S. in
1954 (then known as the National Humane
Society), and the National Catholic Society
for Animal Welfare (now the International
Society for Animal Rights) in 1959.
After an attempt to mandate pound
seizure failed in Illinois, the issue lay dor-
mant until the mid-1970s, when it was
revived by the rise of the animal rights
movement and by anti-pound seizure voices
within the AHA, who finally gained control
after the organization moved from New
York to Colorado. Pound seizure was then
banned in nine contiguous northeastern
states between 1977 and 1985––Connecti-
cut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hamp-
shire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island, Vermont, and West Virginia.
Biomedical research use of dogs
and cats meanwhile fell to less than 10% of
the numbers of the mid-1960s––about
170,000 dogs and 60,000 cats, as of 1988,
combining the numbers used in public and
private institutions. Most are now purpose-
But pound seizure quietly went on.
Interest in the forgotten issue reignited in
January when several Washington state leg-
islators backed a bill to mandate pound
seizure, as an act of retaliation, one
explained, against animal rights activists
who annoyed her during the battle over the
anti-pet breeding ordinance adopted in King
County last year.
The Washington bill was killed by
the intervention of the Washington State
Federation of Humane Societies––on four
days’ notice before the first legislative hear-
ing. But it encouraged humane groups
around the U.S. to probe pound seizure in
their own communities. In Texas, Houston
Animal Control and Harris County Animal
Control were found to have sold 225 and
1,065 animals to laboratories, respectively,
in 1992. The Louisiana group Legislation In
Support of Animals discovered that East
Baton Rouge Animal Control sold as many
as 700 live dogs, 200 live cats, 60 dead
dogs, 30 dead cats, and 20 dead kittens to
the Lousiana State University medical
school in 1992-1993––the most since 1988,
when it sold 511 live animals to labs. The
Network for Ohio Animal Action revealed
in a recent alert that Summit County Animal
Control in Akron is also selling animals to
labs, and several northern California
activist groups report that their local animal
control agencies apparently sell animals to
labs, too, though none could give ANI-
MAL PEOPLE hard numbers.
A variety of anti-pound seizure
campaigns are now in planning.
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