Capitol Alert

California Assembly passes bill to save pets used for research

Dana Felgenhauer of Sacramento touches noses with a mixed breed dog at the Sacramento shelter before adopting her. A pending state bill would require publicly funded research institutions to either set up on-site adoption programs or work with animal adoption groups to offer healthy animals to prospective pet parents.
Dana Felgenhauer of Sacramento touches noses with a mixed breed dog at the Sacramento shelter before adopting her. A pending state bill would require publicly funded research institutions to either set up on-site adoption programs or work with animal adoption groups to offer healthy animals to prospective pet parents. Sacramento Bee file

More dogs and cats used for medical research could avoid early deaths under a bill passed by the California Assembly on Thursday.

Although some animals find new homes after being test subjects, many are euthanized. Of the dogs University of California researchers tested in 2013, 24 were adopted and 32 were euthanized, according to the office of Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, D-Encino .

Dababneh’s Assembly Bill 147, which passed the Assembly 75-1 and now heads to the Senate, would have publicly funded research institutions like universities that either set up on-site adoption programs or work with animal adoption groups to offer sufficiently healthy animals to prospective pet parents.

“The goal is to make sure before these animals are euthanized, every possible measure is taken to adopt them out,” said Dababneh, who was sporting a purple tie with a terrier print pattern.

Many colleges and universities already have adoption programs, Dababneh said. His bill seeks to ensure all of them make some attempt to extend the lives of animals that had been tested using taxpayer dollars.

“My constituents showed me their animals they’d been able to adopt out, how they made them loving pets, how these animals for the first time in their life walked on grass,” he said.

University programs supported by public funds have accounted for most of the dogs and cats used for either biomedical research or teaching in California. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, University of California schools and California community colleges oversaw 1,431 of the dogs and cats used for research or testing. Private colleges managed the remaining 44.

The sole no vote came from Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, who said the state should let universities create their own programs rather than mandating them. Harper said he agreed with encouraging more adoption but does not believe lawmakers should be setting the terms.

“These are decisions to be made at the institutional level,” Harper said.

Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.

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