As of today, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will no longer fund research on dogs procured from pounds, breeders, and other so-called random sources. The move is in response to a 2009 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, which concluded that cats and dogs acquired from such places were not critical for biomedical research, and that using them could damage the reputation of the research enterprise with the public. NIH ended funding for random source cats in 2012.
Dogs and cats enter U.S. research laboratories via two main sources: Class A and Class B dealers. Class A dealers—typically large, corporate entities—only sell animals they raise themselves, while Class B dealers—typically smaller, “mom-and-pop” operations—sell animals that they obtain from other sources, such as pounds and breeders. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has policed both types of dealers since the 1960s, but the Class B system has long been plagued with charges that some of its dealers sell stolen and abused pets. Tougher regulations have shrunk the number of Class B dealers from about 200 in the 1970s to just a handful today.