Pet dogs and cats “taken” from streets and roads at risk of being sold to researchers

Ontario government expands the definition of “Donated by Owner”: Animal Alliance of Canada calls on the Minister to ban the practice immediately.

TORONTO, May 05, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- “As shocking as it sounds, the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs allows anyone to pick up dogs and cats from streets and roads in municipalities without animal bylaws and sell them to research facilities. These animal-collectors are being allowed to claim ‘ownership’ of the dogs or cats they have rounded up, even though the animal might be someone’s family pet,” said Liz White, Director of Animal Alliance, part of a “No Pets in Research” coalition. White continued, “When we asked the Minister to explain who exactly can pick up these animals and sell them to research, he refused to clarify.”

Ontario’s Animals for Research Act allows for the “owner” of a pet dog or cat to donate that animal to a research facility. The Act reads, “Nothing in this section prevents the acquisition by a research facility of a dog or cat that has been donated to the research facility by the owner thereof.” The truly disturbing part of this issue is that Ministry staff have interpreted that to include “Animals surrendered to humane societies or picked up in communities without municipal bylaws governing stray cats or dogs” as stated in Appendix D in a Ministry document entitled “INSTRUCTIONS FOR REPORTING THE NUMBERS OF ANIMALS USED FOR RESEARCH.”1

“Animals picked up in such municipalities should not be legally considered to be stray – without families. Many people allow their cats to go outside. These are animals who have homes and families and yet they can end up in research,” White continued. “To date, both the Minister and the staff have refused to provide clarification as to who is permitted to pick up these dogs and cats and why they can claim to be the owners. A heavily redacted Freedom of Information request provided no additional clarification.”

“Pet owners have no way to find their pets if they go missing. The pets just disappear from the community,” said White. “We are conducting a municipal survey and so far, we know that in 108 municipalities, families with cats could be affected. We also know that in at least 23 municipalities, families with dogs and/or cats could be affected. We urge the Minister to immediately ban this practice. We also urge him to direct every research facility in Ontario that has acquired such animals to return them immediately to the original community so that they can be reunited with the families from whom they were taken.”

“This is shoddy science and shady politics, fuelling an underground market in pets and suffering,” commented White.

Liz White, Director
Animal Alliance of Canada
c) 416-809-4371