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By early 2003, 14 states had passed laws barring shelters from selling animals directly for research or education. Even in those states, however, shelters can still sell to “middleman” animal dealers. THEFT OF COMPANION ANIMALS The dealers who buy animals from shelters are classified by the Animal Welfare Act as class B dealers, meaning that they buy animals from “random sources” rather than breeding them specifically for sale as so-called class A dealers do. The AWA stipulates that class B dealers must be licensed by the USDA and must keep careful records showing the sources of their animals, but animal rights groups such as the American Anti-Vivisection Society claim that these records are sometimes incomplete or falsified.

Animal research supporters such as Adrian Morrison and Frederick Goodwin reply that many preventive methods, like methods of treatment, were and are developed on the basis of animal experiments. Responding to accusations that they are indifferent to the suffering of the animals they use, some researchers admit to being emotionally torn when they must hurt or kill animals. Others point out that, whatever their feelings, they have practical incentives to use as few animals as possible and to treat them gently.

Worse still, the British government admitted in March 1996 that about 10 people had died of a similar disease, called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, and they might have caught it from eating beef from cattle afflicted with BSE. It was rancher Howard Lyman’s warnings that the disease might also appear in the United States that caused Texas cattlemen to sue him and Oprah Winfrey, host of a 1996 television talk show on which he appeared, for product defamation. By late 2003, about 150 people, almost all Britons, had died of the disease.

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