Lawsuit Challenging Sales of Dogs and Cats from Sacramento County Shelter - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 07-06-2006, 01:12 PM
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July 6, 2006

Contact: Teri Barnato, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights

530.759.8106 or Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute 916.447.3085



Sacramento, CA - A California state appeals court decision has ended

a lengthy legal battle by animal protection groups to stop the sale of

animals from the County of Sacramento's animal shelter to research

laboratories. The Third Appellate District Court of Appeal has decided

that the county has discretion about whether to terminate the practice

of selling animals from its shelter to research labs that sign a

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement with the county, despite

repeated violations of the contract regarding animal use.

The MOU agreement was created by the county Board of Supervisors in

1986 to protect the shelter animals being sold by the county for

research and teaching. It was signed by the University of California at

Davis (UC Davis) and Sutter Hospital Medical Research Foundation

(Sutter Hospital).

In 2002, the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR), a

Davis-based veterinary association, filed a complaint with the county

detailing numerous violations of the MOU agreement including

non-compliance with state or federal law; using animals in

unnecessarily-duplicative procedures or procedures that resulted in

stress, pain, or suffering; redundant uses of animals; failure to keep

required records; and not providing the county with records. AVAR asked

the county to end the agreement.

"In response to AVAR's initial complaint, the county merely asked

both UC Davis and Sutter Hospital to defend their use of animals from

the Sacramento shelter, not to respond to the allegations regarding the

welfare of the animals and violations of the MOU," said Teri Barnato,

National Director of AVAR. "The county basically chose to ignore our

concerns about the use of taxpayer funds for this program and the

welfare of the animals suffering in it."

Since its initial complaint, AVAR has been joined by the Animal

Protection Institute (API), a Sacramento-based animal protection

organization, and In Defense of Animals, a Bay Area-based animal

protection organization.

"When it became clear that Sacramento County was going to sweep the

repeated MOU agreement violations under the carpet, we decided that

legal action was necessary," said Michelle Thew, Chief Executive

Officer of API. "The concern for us became: Why is there a contract

if the county is not interested in ensuring any compliance with it?

According to the appellate court, it is a pretty meaningless


"Because Sacramento County is the only county in the state that still

sells animals for research and teaching and because there have been so

many attempts to stop the practice, it appears the county is finally

getting the message that this is a poor policy," said Barnato.

An updated draft MOU agreement has been written stipulating that UC

Davis can use animals from the county shelter but only for uses that

benefit the animals and that the animals must be returned to the

shelter for adoption. A county hearing on the newly-proposed MOU

agreement is set for August 2, 2006.

It is anticipated that Sutter Hospital will not adopt a similar

agreement, as it continues to argue that kittens and dogs are necessary

for teaching and research. Sutter Hospital uses kittens to train nurses

in intubation techniques, although no other area hospitals use animals

for this type of training. Dogs are used for research on a type of

heart device; however, no records have been provided that describe the

animals' use in these studies.

Plaintiffs were represented by the law office of Evans & Page, of San

Francisco, CA.
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