HARRISBURG – Joined by a group of beagles and their owners, Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33) announced at a Capitol news conference he has introduced legislation to end taxpayer-funded painful experimentation on dogs and cats in Pennsylvania.
“It is barbaric to think dogs and cats in Pennsylvania are being subjected to cruel testing in 2023,” Mastriano said. “Animal cruelty is prohibited in the Bible and it should be prohibited in our state. Proverbs 12:10 says, ‘The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel.’ We want to end taxpayer-funded cruelty to animals in Pennsylvania.”
Mastriano’s Senate Bill 658 would prevent institutions from using state funds to support painful experimentation on dogs and cats as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Beagle owners surrounding Mastriano held signs reading, “Dogs belong on laps, not labs.” The dogs were rescued from labs and their owners are promoting their stories and supporting Mastriano’s bill using the hashtag #LapsNotLabs.
The families shared stories about their adopted dogs being used as breeders when they were in the laboratory and birthing multiple litters of puppies during their lives.
“These are heartbreaking stories and Pennsylvania needs to take action,” Mastriano said. “The way we treat animals says something about the state of our society and the values we hold dear.”
More than 3,000 dogs and more than 1,000 cats currently are subjected to cruel testing at universities and labs across Pennsylvania.
Dogs have their hearts, lungs or kidneys deliberately damaged or removed to study how experimental substances might affect human organ function. Cats have their spinal chords damaged and are forced to run on treadmills to study how nerve activity might affect human limb movement. The vocal cords of dogs and cats are removed so they can’t make noise when they are in pain.
Mastriano’s legislation would require institutions that use state funding for dog and cat tests to remain compliant with federal laws. A laboratory that fails to comply with federal law would lose its eligibility to receive state funding for one year.
The bill also would specifically prohibit the use of public funds to surgically devocalize dogs or cats in laboratories.
Mastriano’s bill also would increase transparency by requiring institutions that receive state funding for dog and cat tests to disclose the amount of state funding it received, the amount of federal and private funding it received, and to clearly indicate in all public communications that “funding for these experiments was provided with Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars.” It also would require the Pennsylvania Department of the Treasury to release an annual report about animal research directly or indirectly funded with state dollars.
In addition to ending the cruelty, Mastriano also wants to help animals used in animal experimentation find homes. His bill would require institutions receiving state funding to make healthy dogs and cats used in experimentation available for adoption when they no longer are needed for testing.
“We want these dogs and cats to find loving homes where they can live out the rest of their lives in peace and comfort,” Mastriano said. “I’m so grateful to the families who adopt these dogs and cats and give them a second chance at life.”
The bill soon will be assigned to a standing committee for consideration.
The beagle event was supported by the Humane Society of the United States, the Adams County SPCA, and the White Coat Waste Project. The White Coat Waste Project is a bipartisan coalition of 3 million taxpayers opposed to the government’s wasteful spending on animal experiments.
“Thousands of dogs and cats are locked in Pennsylvania labs, and we applaud Senator Mastriano for his outstanding efforts to ensure that taxpayers aren’t forced to foot the bill for cruel and wasteful experiments on these animals,” said Tristan Daedalus, government affairs director at White Coat Waste Project. “We’re also grateful that he’s leading the charge to retire dogs and cats from taxpayer-funded labs and to improve transparency about government spending on animal tests. As our watchdog’s investigations have exposed, taxpayer-funded white coats are wasting tens of millions of dollars each year to de-bark and poison dogs, cripple cats and give them brain damage, and even inject puppies with cocaine. A supermajority of Americans across the political spectrum wants lawmakers to cut wasteful spending on dog and cat experiments. The solution is clear: stop the money, stop the madness.”