Lawmaker urges PA to stop funding inhumane animal testing

Photo courtesy Sen. Doug Mastriano via Facebook Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Chambersburg, greets a police dog during an event at the Capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa. on June 6, 2023.

An unlikely team says Pennsylvania should cut taxpayer funding for inhumane testing on cats and dogs.

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Chambersburg, introduced Senate Bill 658 to do just that. He said he developed the bill in consultation with the White Coat Waste Project, an organization that says its mission is to investigate and expose wasteful government spending on animal experiments.

“It is barbaric to think dogs and cats in Pennsylvania are being subjected to cruel testing in 2023,” Mastriano said at a recent press conference.

White Coat Waste Project Vice President Justin Goodman told The Center Square their investigations have exposed the wasting of “tens of millions of dollars in Pennsylvania and elsewhere to de-bark and poison dogs, cripple cats and give them brain damage, and even inject puppies with cocaine.”

“The solution is clear,” he said. “Stop the money. Stop the madness.”

Mastriano said the organization’s #BeagleGate campaign was responsible for ending planned experiments on beagles at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Progressive news outlets, including the Daily Beast and Buzzfeed, have since accused the organization of fueling right-wing conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic’s origins.

Goodman said they applaud Mastriano for his “outstanding efforts to ensure taxpayers aren’t forced to foot the bill for cruel and wasteful experiments on these animals.”

Mastriano said federal reports show more than 4,000 dogs and cats were “imprisoned in over a dozen Commonwealth labs” in 2021, including the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, and Temple University.

He pointed to records that show 1,100 of these animals were subjected to significant pain and distress. In some cases, pain relief was withheld from animals intentionally.

“Many of these horrible experiments on puppies and kittens, and the labs where they’re conducted, are funded with federal and state tax dollars, even though a supermajority of taxpayers oppose this cruel testing,” Mastriano said.

The bill’s language says institutions failing to comply with federal laws would lose their eligibility for state funding for one year. The bill would also prohibit the use of public funds to surgically devocalize dogs or cats in laboratories.

Transparency would also be increased by requiring institutions to disclose amounts of state, federal, and private funding received, and to clearly indicate in all public communications that “funding for these experiments was provided with Pennsylvania taxpayer dollars.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Treasury would be required to release an annual report on animal research directly or indirectly funded with state dollars.

Another provision would require institutions receiving state funding to make healthy dogs and cats used in experimentation available for adoption when they are no longer needed for testing.

“We want these dogs and cats to find loving homes where they can live out the rest of their lives in peace and comfort,” Mastriano said. “I’m so grateful to the families who adopt these dogs and cats and give them a second chance at life.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund publishes an annual report based on the strength of states’ animal protection laws and ranks Pennsylvania 16th in the nation.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee.


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