NIH Under Pressure
Responding to the National Academy of Sciences report on Class B dealers (see AWI Quarterly Summer 2009), both the House and Senate reports accompanying the bills funding the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for fiscal year 2010 express a desire to end the use of Class B dealers as a source of animals for research funded by the NIH. More forceful than the House, the Senate language "expects the NIH to phase out, as quickly as possible, the use of any of its funds for the purchase of, or research on, dogs or cats obtained from [Class B dealers]." It also tells NIH that it "should not award any new grants or contracts that involve such animals and should immediately begin supporting alternative sources of random source animals from non-Class B dealers." Despite their differences, we expect both chambers to hold NIH accountable for taking immediate steps to end the use of Class B dealers by its grant recipients.
Bats Hit Home Run
The Department of the Interior appropriations bill is good news for animals on two fronts. Through an amendment offered by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), it provides an additional $1.9 million for research and monitoring of the deadly White-nose Syndrome (WNS) in bats which is decimating Northeastern bat populations in record numbers (see AWI Quarterly Summer 2009).
Stay of Execution
The Interior bill also provides a temporary reprieve from the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) proposed policy of killing healthy, unadopted wild horses and burros in its care. Congress has prohibited BLM from using funds for that purpose or for selling wild horses and burros to others to be killed and used in "commercial products."
Similarly, as it has done in past Agriculture Appropriations bills, Congress has prohibited the Department of Agriculture from using any of its fiscal year 2010 funds for the inspection of horses at slaughter plants. Without such inspections, no horse slaughter plant can operate in the U.S. But this, too, is just a temporary fix - it lasts only for the fiscal year and does not prevent the shipment of horses to slaughter outside the U.S., so passage of the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act (H.R. 503 and S. 727) is still urgently needed.