From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1994:

MEXICALI, Mexico––The World
Society for the Protection of Animals on March
25 announced it had exposed a major Mexican
pet theft ring, operating for at least eight years.
The ring is organized by several American resi-
dents of Mexico. Bunchers pay children $1.00
apiece to catch cats, who are trucked in lots of
30 to 40 to Mexicali, where they are drowned
about 10 at a time in water barrels, preserved
with formaldehyde, and hauled to a location in
Sinaloa state, where they are sold for $7.00
each. From Sinaloa, they are trucked to U.S.

“Our investigation has firmly estab-
lished that a large number of the cats they are
killing are domestic pets,” said WSPA interna-
tional projects director John Walsh. “Further,
we have irrefutable evidence that the cats cruel-
ly killed in Mexico are going to American bio-
logical supply firms who supply public schools
with animals for dissection. The Mexican
police can find no laws being violated,”
although a November 1993 police raid on the
Mexicali site found 247 dead cats and 55 live
ones in small cages, while a second raid on
January 30, 1994, found 2,000 dead cats in
plastic bags being loaded from one truck to
another––twice as many as the company had
permits to haul. No action was taken, accord-
ing to WSPA.
“We feel U.S. federal law may
apply,” said Walsh, inasmuch as the origin of
animals sold for laboratory use must be certi-
fied under the Animal Welfare Act. Because
the USDA cannot inspect facilities in Canada,
it was able to halt the traffic in Canadian dogs
and cats to U.S. laboratories (with investigative
help from ANIMAL PEOPLE) effective on
February 18, 1993. The same ruling should be
applicable to the Mexican traffic.
Turning to shelters
Possibly anticipating a federal crack-
down, which would create a temporary supply
gap, Michael Sargeant of Sargeant’s Wholesale
Biologicals in Auburn, California, in April
offered to buy about 20,000 dead cats per year
from the Los Angeles Department of Animal

Regulation, which euthanizes about 30,000 a
year, at $2.50 apiece, about 10% of what he
gets after a dead cat is pickled and her tissues
dyed preparatory for dissection.
Mimi Robins, president of the Los
Angeles Animal Regulatory Commission,
favors Sargent’s proposal. “We pay an exhorbi-
tant amount each year to have a company haul
them off,” she explained. “This proposal
would give us some money we could use for
more spaying and neutering, which is what we
really need to do.”
Added Lois Newman of Los Angeles
Dog and Cat Rescue, “I’ve had to think about
this a lot, but I’m in favor. These animals are
dead when Sargeant enters the picture. He’s not
killing them.”
A decision was deferred pending a
background check on Sargeant, who has bio-
logical supply facilities in Placer County and
Bakersfield, California, as well as San
Antonio, Texas.
Ray Kennedy of LBS Biological Inc.
simultaneously approached various Florida
shelters offering a similar deal. His firm appar-
ently recently expanded to Callahan, Florida,
after starting in Haw River, Nebraska.
Background checks on his operation are like-
wise underway.
The idea of using euthanized shelter
animals for dissection is not new: Nasco
International, of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin,
has been purchasing dead animals from shelters
in the upper midwest since 1982, at $2.25 per
cat and $6.00 per dog, redeemable in merchan-
dise from the Nasco mail order catalog. In
1988 an audit of the Winnebago County
Animal Control Unit found that about $600 of a
Nasco credit of $8,800 was spent on gelatin
molds, clocks, kitchenwares, and other items
for apparent personal use.
Of more serious concern to animal
protection activists is the possibility that selling
dead animals might eventually become a lucra-
tive business for shelters, discouraging anti-pet
overpopulation efforts. Currently, however,
the typical cost of receiving animals ranges
from 20 to 50 times the sale price for animal
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