Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon said that the research expeiments on kittens conducted by the Agriculture Department are "horrific".
A new bill made by a bipartisan group of lawmakers titled "Kittens In Traumatic Testing Ends Now Act" or KITTEN Act was introduced in the legislation on Thursday. The bill supports the rights of cats and urges the "USDA to consider alternative testing methods to infecting and killing kittens." Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and California Representative Jimmy Panetta introduced the bill in order to stop the slaughter of kittens that are used for research experiments by the Department of Agriculture. As reported by NBC News, "The USDA's decision to slaughter kittens after they are used in research is an archaic practice and horrific treatment, and we need to end it," Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., the Senate bill's lead sponsor, said in a statement. The bill suggests that the USDA "unnecessarily" kills cats and kittens that are used during the testing. Reports suggest that the agency has been breeding kittens in Beltsville, Maryland, and further infecting them with a parasite that causes foodborne illnesses.
As reported by KTVZ, “This common sense, bipartisan bill will require the USDA to adhere to the same animal welfare standards that the department is charged to uphold,” said Panetta. “While I strongly support scientific research, taxpayer money and federal resources should be spent on advancing scientific research in an ethical manner, not on inflicting pain on kittens or killing them after they are used in agency testing. I hope this bill helps us get closer to ending this cruel practice.” Since 1970, the USDA has spent around $650,000 per year on infecting and then killing kittens in the Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Beltsville.
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is WAY out of line breeding cats just to feed them parasite-ridden raw meat and then kill them even though they’re perfectly healthy. Our bipartisan KITTEN Act will put an end to this abusive and unnecessary practice for good.https://t.co/NIGqEiP5Q5— Rep. Brian Mast (@RepBrianMast) March 7, 2019
The agency has reportedly been using over 100 cats per year. However, in a statement published by Huffington Post last year, a USDA spokesperson said that only "2,988 cats have been used in these research efforts that began in 1982." An investigation conducted by watchdog organization White Coat Waste Project found that the USDA has been conducting such testing experiments for decades and subsequently been killing kittens in the process. The watchdog organization has backed this bill. The group's vice president of advocacy and public policy, Justin Goodman, said its members "want this horrific program relegated to the litter box of history."
@USDA has been incinerating kittens since 1982 for pointless tests. Call your senator and tell them they need to support the Kitten act to stop this barbaric testing today! #kittenact https://t.co/HKI0bH71av— Meggie🌵 (@remarkablespork) March 7, 2019
"Three-thousand healthy kittens killed and $22 million wasted on decades of cruel and unproductive government experiments should alarm budget hawks and advocates alike," said Goodman. The USDA has given no comment to this statement. However, the Agricultural Research Services has defended their experiments by suggesting that these projects conducted on the animals are actually part of life-saving research. The agency also claims that the kittens need to be euthanized in order to stop the parasite from spreading to humans as well.
The American Veterinary Medical Association said that handling cats who have been infected by this parasite cannot spread the infection to humans. They claim that it is highly unlikely for something like this to happen. The USDA claimed that it has been looking for alternative testing methods since last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says toxoplasmosis, the foodborne illness, is one of the leading causes of death from foodborne illnesses in the country. Over 40 million Americans carry the parasite without a problem, however, the parasite can have severe consequences on pregnant women or on people who have weak immune systems.
"The USDA told ABC News they do not seek adoptions for the infected cats because of the potential risk they could pose to their adoptive families."— Steve Saban (@Steve_Saban) March 8, 2019
This is liability management.
Kill infected cats or risk potential lawsuits from families getting sick from these cats.
"The KITTEN Act will protect these innocent animals from being needlessly euthanized in government testing, and make sure that they can be adopted by loving families instead," said Merkley.
"The fact that we need a piece of legislation to tell the federal government to stop killing kittens is ridiculous on its face," said Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., who is co-sponsoring California Democrat Jimmy Panetta's version of the bill in the House. "(B)ut what's even worse is, when you hear the details that the government is actually breeding hundreds of these cats just to intentionally feed them parasite-ridden raw meat and then kill them even though they're perfectly healthy."
How many Americans knew kittens were being used for research and then killed? There are plenty of other ways to do research without the use of innocent animals!— LRFalstad (@LRFalstad) March 8, 2019
"While I strongly support scientific research, taxpayer money and federal resources should be spent on advancing scientific research in an ethical manner, not on inflicting pain on kittens or killing them after they are used in agency testing. I hope this bill helps us get closer to ending this cruel practice," Panetta said. Animal rights activists praised the bill. "The USDA’s archaic kitten experiments are out of step with 21st-century research practices and animal welfare recommendations," said Hannah Shaw, the creator of advocacy project Kitten Lady.
Great to see Kitten Lady involved!👍👍👍👍👍— Peter Tuffley (@avantip0polo) March 8, 2019
The KITTEN Act is said to fully protect these feline creatures by requiring that the Secretary of Agriculture stop the usage of cats and kittens as a part of their experiments. It is supported by a wide range of Senate and House cosponsors, including Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and a group of more than 20 bipartisan U.S. Representatives.
Who ever thought this was a good practice in the first place?!?— MC (@mchayden100) March 7, 2019
His is so disgusting. Thank you for being the animal activist you are! 💖— Willow Pippa (@WillowPippa1) March 8, 2019