associated with the use of random source dogs and cats in research. Consequently, NIH asked the National Academies to assemble a committee of experts to address the statement of task shown in Chapter 1. This chapter provides a review of these issues to set the context for subsequent chapters that focus on the use of random source animals, and animals from Class B dealers in NIH-funded research.


The public’s perception of their pets, and of animals in general, has been one of the main driving forces behind the legislation that created and refined the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). It is estimated that nearly half of all U.S. households have at least one dog or cat, with a total population of 72 million dogs and nearly 82 million cats (American Veterinary Medical Association [AVMA] 20071,2). In a survey conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association (20043), approximately 94% of owners attributed human personality traits to their pets and said they would risk their lives for their pet. Indeed, in urban disasters, pet owners risk their lives (and those of rescue workers) when they fail to evacuate or attempt to reenter an unsafe building or area to save a pet (Heath et al. 1998). In addition, pet owners spend over $11 billion per year on veterinary care (American Pet Products Association 2008 survey4), and the pet products industry contributes over $50 billion to the U.S. economy, with the exponential growth of pet superstores, play parks, day care centers, and training centers.

Assessments of pet ownership and the state of affairs of dogs and cats in the U.S. must take into account the plight of homeless animals. However, it is impossible to provide a current or accurate estimate of the numbers of animals that enter shelters or are euthanized because there is no federal requirement to gather or release such data, shelters may obscure or refuse to release data to avoid negative publicity, and there is no reliable public list of shelters. Furthermore, although “shelter” or “pound” is defined in this report as a “facility that operates as a pound or shelter (e.g., a humane society or other organization established for the purpose of caring for animals), under contract with a state, county, or city, and that releases animals on a voluntary basis” the shelter data provided in this chapter may include statistics from other facilities commonly referred to as shelters. In the absence of

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