APHIS). The AWA has been revised, amended, and increasingly refined since its original passage in 1966. Enforcement of the AWA is the responsibility of the USDA/APHIS, which has also repeatedly revised its Animal Welfare Regulations (AWR).

In general, the American public is supportive of the use of animals in research. However, the public is also concerned about the humane treatment of these animals. This concern has contributed to the evolution of federal laws, principles, and policies that guide the use of animals in biomedical research; for example, concern over lost or stolen pets was a major impetus that shaped the AWA when it first passed in 1966. Despite increasingly effective (but still incomplete) enforcement of the law, public concern continues, especially with respect to the use in biomedical research of random source dogs and cats that are obtained from pounds and shelters and may have come from the general pet population. Recent failure of the AWA and USDA/APHIS to prevent abuses by some, but not all, Class B dealers who buy and sell random source dogs and cats for research have re-stimulated public concerns, particularly in regards to lost or stolen pets.

In response to a request of Congress, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) charged the National Academies to critically examine the general desirability and necessity of using random source dogs and cats in NIH-funded research, and the specific necessity of using dogs and cats from Class B dealers for such research.


As a result of the Fiscal Year 2008 House Appropriations Committee Report 110-231 and Fiscal Year 2008 Senate Appropriations Committee Report 110-107 regarding appropriations to the Department of Health and Human Services, with the Pet Safety and Protection Act of 2007 as an additional impetus, Congress charged the NIH with determining the humane and scientific issues associated with the use of random source1 dogs and cats in research. NIH in turn asked the National Academies to assemble a committee of experts to prepare a report that addresses the following statement of task:

The National Academies will form an expert committee (entitled “Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random Source Dogs and Cats for Research”) to address the use of Class B dogs and cats in research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Specifically, the committee will:


Research animals that come from the general population, rather than from commercial breeders, are “random source” animals. See Characteristics of Random Source Animals for NIH-Funded Research, below.

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