Thursday, June 16, 2011
For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Angela Speed
(414) 431-6104 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wisconsin Humane Society asks senators to protect basic needs of animals
Budget bill gives researchers exemption from all state animal cruelty laws
MILWAUKEE – The Wisconsin Humane Society is asking state senators to remove language in the budget bill exempting researchers from state animal cruelty laws.
There is immense public concern over this issue. The WHS alert about this provision generated nearly 1800 email responses from the public, more than any of WHS’s other legislative alerts, including the 2009 puppy mill bill alert.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s summary was passed by the assembly early this morning, which follows below:
14. Liability Protections for Scientific Researchers
Delete the provision approved by Joint Finance and instead create the following exemptions to current law provisions prohibiting crimes against animals: (a) teaching, research, or experimentation conducted pursuant to a protocol or procedure approved by an educational or research institution, and related incidental animal care activities, at facilities that are regulated under federal law; and (b) bona fide scientific research involving species unregulated by federal law. The provision approved by Joint Finance would have exempted animals used for research or experimentation at an educational or research institution or that is being used for research or experimentation that is regulated under federal law from these provisions.
Although the language was changed from what was approved by the Joint Finance Committee, WHS remains concerned. Anne Reed, executive director of WHS, says, “We recognize that animal research has made important contributions to science, but Wisconsin law already allows researchers several exemptions from animal cruelty laws to permit research to happen.”
Educational or institutional research and related “incidental care activities” are exempt under the simple amendment as passed. “We appreciate that university systems have ethical guidelines and procedures, but don’t believe these substitute for criminal statutes,” states Reed. “In any workplace where workers are under stress and have power over others– prisons, nursing homes, and animal labs – abuses can happen even when there are strong ethical policies and protocols. The state has a right to punish people when that happens.”
“If this is a change that the University of Wisconsin system feels it needs,” explains Reed, “it should be introduced separately from the budget to allow for public hearing and discussion. We are happy to work with UW and legislators on a balanced approach, but feel that it’s critical to have animal welfare experts at the table and give the public a proper chance to respond.”
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