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Michigan bill would require some animals used in lab testing to be put up for adoption

Natalie Kolb
Comonwealth Media Services/Flkr/creative commons

When Dave Rubello adopted his beagle, Teddy, he knew having a dog used in lab testing could come with medical challenges.

"Teddy's now been here about two years and that's all I can ask," Rubello said. "I can't guarantee three years. I can't guarantee one year, but I can guarantee him a good house and a loving house and to run with his brother dogs."

Rubello says plenty of people want to give a second chance to animals like Teddy.

That’s why he testified Tuesday in support of legislation from state Representative Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores) that would require labs to offer cats and dogs to shelters before euthanizing them.

The proposal is paired with a bill from Rep. Tommy Brann (R-Wyoming) that would make labs report information annually to the state on the number of animals released to shelters. Noncompliance would carry fines.

But Stephen Rapundalo, who leads the Michigan Biosciences Industry Association, called the bills an overreach. He says many labs already participate in adoption.

"A blanket mandate for adoption of research animals is not recommended nor wise," Rapundalo said. "Adoption is not always the best option, but when it is possible, a process for adoption should be very specific and oriented to each individual animal. And this ensures that research animals, especially if they are special needs or high-need, can be placed appropriately.”

Hertel's bill says both labs and shelters would be exempt from civil liability for the transfer of a cat or dog, assuming that the facilities acted in good faith concerning the animal's "health and physical condition."

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