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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE<br><br>
July 6, 2006<br><br><br><br>
Contact: Teri Barnato, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights<br><br>
530.759.8106 or Zibby Wilder, Animal Protection Institute 916.447.3085<br><br>
x205<br><br><br><br>
LAWSUIT CHALLENGING SALES OF DOGS AND CATS FROM SACRAMENTO COUNTY SHELTER TO RESEARCH LABS FAILS<br><br><br><br>
Sacramento, CA - A California state appeals court decision has ended<br><br>
a lengthy legal battle by animal protection groups to stop the sale of<br><br>
animals from the County of Sacramento's animal shelter to research<br><br>
laboratories. The Third Appellate District Court of Appeal has decided<br><br>
that the county has discretion about whether to terminate the practice<br><br>
of selling animals from its shelter to research labs that sign a<br><br>
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement with the county, despite<br><br>
repeated violations of the contract regarding animal use.<br><br><br><br>
The MOU agreement was created by the county Board of Supervisors in<br><br>
1986 to protect the shelter animals being sold by the county for<br><br>
research and teaching. It was signed by the University of California at<br><br>
Davis (UC Davis) and Sutter Hospital Medical Research Foundation<br><br>
(Sutter Hospital).<br><br><br><br>
In 2002, the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR), a<br><br>
Davis-based veterinary association, filed a complaint with the county<br><br>
detailing numerous violations of the MOU agreement including<br><br>
non-compliance with state or federal law; using animals in<br><br>
unnecessarily-duplicative procedures or procedures that resulted in<br><br>
stress, pain, or suffering; redundant uses of animals; failure to keep<br><br>
required records; and not providing the county with records. AVAR asked<br><br>
the county to end the agreement.<br><br><br><br>
"In response to AVAR's initial complaint, the county merely asked<br><br>
both UC Davis and Sutter Hospital to defend their use of animals from<br><br>
the Sacramento shelter, not to respond to the allegations regarding the<br><br>
welfare of the animals and violations of the MOU," said Teri Barnato,<br><br>
National Director of AVAR. "The county basically chose to ignore our<br><br>
concerns about the use of taxpayer funds for this program and the<br><br>
welfare of the animals suffering in it."<br><br><br><br>
Since its initial complaint, AVAR has been joined by the Animal<br><br>
Protection Institute (API), a Sacramento-based animal protection<br><br>
organization, and In Defense of Animals, a Bay Area-based animal<br><br>
protection organization.<br><br><br><br>
"When it became clear that Sacramento County was going to sweep the<br><br>
repeated MOU agreement violations under the carpet, we decided that<br><br>
legal action was necessary," said Michelle Thew, Chief Executive<br><br>
Officer of API. "The concern for us became: Why is there a contract<br><br>
if the county is not interested in ensuring any compliance with it?<br><br>
According to the appellate court, it is a pretty meaningless<br><br>
document."<br><br><br><br>
"Because Sacramento County is the only county in the state that still<br><br>
sells animals for research and teaching and because there have been so<br><br>
many attempts to stop the practice, it appears the county is finally<br><br>
getting the message that this is a poor policy," said Barnato.<br><br><br><br>
An updated draft MOU agreement has been written stipulating that UC<br><br>
Davis can use animals from the county shelter but only for uses that<br><br>
benefit the animals and that the animals must be returned to the<br><br>
shelter for adoption. A county hearing on the newly-proposed MOU<br><br>
agreement is set for August 2, 2006.<br><br><br><br>
It is anticipated that Sutter Hospital will not adopt a similar<br><br>
agreement, as it continues to argue that kittens and dogs are necessary<br><br>
for teaching and research. Sutter Hospital uses kittens to train nurses<br><br>
in intubation techniques, although no other area hospitals use animals<br><br>
for this type of training. Dogs are used for research on a type of<br><br>
heart device; however, no records have been provided that describe the<br><br>
animals' use in these studies.<br><br><br><br>
Plaintiffs were represented by the law office of Evans & Page, of San<br><br>
Francisco, CA.
 
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