Model Laws

Prohibition on Pound Seizure


Read Commentary



Sec. 1. Use of dogs for medical research restricted

(a) No person shall procure or use any living dog for medical or biological teaching, research or study. No hospital, educational institution or laboratory shall purchase or accept, without fee, any living dog or cat from any municipal animal control officer, pound, kennel, shelter or commercial kennel in this state.


(b) No animal control officer or municipal animal control officer shall sell, give or transfer any unclaimed, impounded dog to any animal dealer, whether or not such dealer is licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture.



Additional Commentary

Pound seizure is the practice of selling or giving animals from the city pound or shelter to research facilities for experimentation upon demand from those institutions. In some states, or at the county or municipal level, selling animals to research facilities is required, if such a facility requests access to the animals at the shelter or pound. In other communities, selling animals to research facilities is permitted but not required. Finally, many states, as well as local authorities, ban the sale of shelter or abandoned animals to any research entity. However, the practice of surrendering impounded animals from public and private shelters to biomedical research laboratories, training institutions, pharmaceutical houses, and educational institutions that use animals for experimental teaching or testing purposes contributes to a breakdown of effective animal-control programs.


  • Pound seizure undermines efforts of shelters to rescue and adopt animals into good homes.
  • Releasing animals to research facilities at their request destroys public confidence in the operation of a shelter and thereby lessens public support for the shelter's programs and efforts at public outreach.
  • Some owners would prefer to abandon an animal rather than release him to a shelter where the animal may later be subjected to painful use as a subject for research.


Not only is the use of pound animals for research detrimental to the shelters, it is also poor science. Presuming that animals can be effectively used for research purposes, the consensus among scientists is that the use of random-source animals compromises the integrity of science because of a lack of uniformity among the subjects and a lack of history for individual animals, including past diet and exposure to disease.


Pound animals have also traditionally been used as educational tools in the teaching of biology, toxicology, and physiology. As computer and in vitro alternatives to these procedures have proliferated in the scientific community, fewer and fewer medical and veterinary schools rely on these exercises to teach their students.


Finally, no matter how many times the biomedical research community states that the animals they use for research are not pets, allowing pound animals be sold for research means that there is a strong probability that some of them are just that. These animals may be lost, strayed or stolen. Through no fault of their own, these animals go from a secure and comfortable environment into the uncertainty and confusion of the shelter, and then the possibility of ending up as a nameless laboratory specimen, even while still alive. There are cities that have taken a positive step of including language that actually bans pound seizure within their limits, including San Francisco, Albuquerque, Seattle, Miami and Indianapolis. We are pleased that the City of Chicago is ready to take the step of removing language that endorses pound seizure as a step forward towards becoming a humane city.



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