Monday, May 01, 2006

Pound Seizure, USDA Class B Dealers and Animal Testing: How Dogs and Cats Actually End Up in Animal Testing Facilities and How to Stop It

I’m posting this alone today to draw attention to this horrific issue and to draw attention to a bill in the US congress that would put an end to it.

The issue is that of USDA Class B Dealers, pet theft, pound seizures and animal testing.

Essentially, a group of scum, known as Class B Dealers, are actually licensed and sanctioned by the USDA to bring dogs and cats to animal testing facilities. They are not asked from where they attainted the dogs and cats. Many are literally stolen from backyards or bought from animal control or animal shelters.

In the article below, you’ll see first hand how incredibly sick this operation is. You’ll read of actual cases involving family companion animals ending up in the hands of a Class B dealer, or even worse, at a testing facility. Some are lucky and are returned home (only via the help of someone inside one of the organizations) but many are not. Their fate is then horrific torture at the hands of animal testing, or, as you’ll see, brutal abuse and death at the hands of a sick USDA Class B Dealer. (See the photos below as proof).

I wrote a week or so ago about USDA Class B Dealers, pet theft, pound seizures and animal testing. I also included information on a bill in the US congress that would put an end to such a horrific practice - the Pet Safety and Protection Act. To read about these issues, visit

For more on pound seizure from a group doing much to stop it, and who are directly involved in the Pet Safety and Protection Act see


Pound Seizure: Abuse and Profit ·

If you are lucky enough to share your life with a dog, you know that they can be incredibly loving companions. You know that they feel. They think; they dream; and they have emotions that range from ecstatic joy to sadness. Anyone who has a dog knows this, and yet, dogs are still used in experiments, vet schools, medical schools, and other ‘scientific’ endeavors everyday in the United States and the UK.

This probably isn’t a huge surprise to most vegans. We know that industries that exploit animals gain tremendously from this exploitation. But what a lot of us don’t know about is the fact that often, those dogs that are used in experiments are family members. Unlucky enough to end up in a pound, and then seized from that pound by a so-called Class B animal dealer, beloved canine family members can end up in the lab of a vivisectionist, or on the table in a vet school. And it is all perfectly legal.

Thanks to the hard work of people like Kimberly McDonald (who will be on our podcast this week) and organizations like Last Chance for Animals, we can see just how these so-called “pound seizures” operate, and how the abuse of animals for profit is inherent in the process.

In a presentation to the Jackson County Michigan Agencies, Kimberly McDonald detailed the results of an undercover investigation into Hodgins Kennels, in Howell, Michigan. The four-month-long investigation showed “instances of records falsification, deliberate attempts to hide the identities of possible missing pets, insufficient veterinary care and abuse by Fred Hodgins and his daughter Tammi of the dogs in their care.”[1] McDonald cites one example from the investigation of a dog named Tootsie:

In July of 2002 a German Shepherd named Tootsie was purchased from Jackson County Animal Control by Hodgins Kennel. She was sold to a research laboratory in Chicago with her personal identification tag still attached to her collar….An employee at the lab noticed Tootsie’s ID tag and was responsible for her being reunited with her family. After Tammi was made aware that Tootsie was being returned on November 22 that Tammi not only ordered the undercover investigator to remove all identification tags before selling further dogs for research, but was observed removing tags herself and throwing them away.

Tootsie was spared. But another story that McDonald details doesn’t have such a happy ending. Here, McDonald describes the case of Conan.

Conan became a member of the Evans family when Mrs. Evans was five months pregnant with her daughter Anna. Conan was a gentle and protective friend to Anna from the moment she was born. Mr. & Mrs. Evans were delighted by the special relationship that developed and looked forward to Conan and Anna growing up together. But it was not to be.

While on vacation, Conan was left with a neighbor and became lost sometime during the last week of August 2002. Conan ended up at Jackson County Animal Control on September 5, 2002 as a stray. Two weeks later Conan was sold to Hodgins Kennels – with his rabies tag still attached to his collar…

It’s important to note that Conan’s family took all the necessary steps to get Conan back – they called and visited all the nearby animal shelters including Jackson County Animal Control, missing dog flyers were posted around town and Conan always wore identification.

Conan was at Hodgins Kennels for over two months before he was sold on December 2, 2002 to Masonic Research in New York. During Conan’s seventy plus days at Hodgins Kennels his rabies tag, which contained the family vet’s name & number was documented on his collar day after day, but Tammi and Fred made no attempt to reach his family.

click on any picture for full-size image

At the County Agencies meeting in June of this year, Mr. Hodgins stated that he holds dogs for at least thirty days which allows plenty of time for missing pets to be reunited with their owners. Yet how would pet owners even know to contact Hodgins Kennels for their missing pets? Mrs. Evans made several phone calls to Jackson County Animal Control and not once was she told her dog could be at a B Dealer’s facility….

The day before Conan was transported to Masonic Research Tammi removed his personal ID tag and tossed it in the garbage. Yet another opportunity to save Conan’s life and reunite him with the family that desperately wanted him back was ignored.

This heart wrenching photo of Conan was taken moments before his departure to Masonic Research in New York. As you can see, his rabies tag is missing from his collar. Subsequent calls to the research facility confirmed that Conan had been killed in an experiment only nine days after his arrival.

According to McDonald, Hodgins Kennels later instructed the undercover investigator to remove the tags of a lab-mix name Buddy before they took Buddy from a local shelter. This photo also shows tags of dogs found in the trash at Hodgins’ facility:

In her presentation, McDonald also discussed instances of dogs being beaten and dying in the care of the facility, with these pictures as evidence. Here, you see the dog alive:

And here, you see the dog that McDonald says was beaten to death at Hodgins Kennels, taken in a freezer:

For those dogs that are still alive and not shipped off to labs, they have to live in conditions that Last Chance for Animals has characterized as “squalid” and “soaked with urine and feces, food buckets that contained urine.” In addition LCA found that animals held at Hodgins Kennels suffered injuries due to intensive confinement.

All of this, of course, raises the horrible specter that your companion could one day end up in the ‘care’ of a class B dealer, and then legally be sold off to a lab or other facility for vivisection, experimentation, or other ‘scientific purposes’—all for a profit. According to an LCA press release, “research dealers are getting pets from shelters for $10 (much less than the general public pays to adopt). The animals are resold to research institutions for an average of $250, sometimes as much as $1200.”

The people that do this selling for so much money are Class B dealers. Licensed by the USDA to obtain animals for resale from auctions, pounds, shelters, or other sources (including ‘free to a good home ads’) class B dealers are required to hold animals obtained from a pound or shelter for 10 full days before selling the animal. Nevertheless, there is potential for abuse of this system, as the evidence above from McDonald alleges.


At an intellectual level, I knew that dogs were seized from pounds and used in experimentation, yet somewhere in the back of my head, I’ve been able to suppress that fact. It always seemed so distant, so far away, and so easy to put out of my mind. But after seeing these pictures, corresponding with McDonald, and knowing the story of Conan, I don’t feel like this is something that I can comfortably ignore any longer if I’m serious about my commitment to protecting animals.

When I first saw the pictures and read McDonald’s presentation, I found myself angry, upset, and overwhelmed, for I could easily imagine my own dog in such circumstances. As my dog sleeps peacefully here, I’m reminded of how much love animals can show us, and I’m angered by how much hate, indecency, and cruelty we show them in return. We should be ashamed, and we should work to end the sale of dogs through class B dealers.

More information:

– Kimberly McDonald will be on Vegan Freak Radio during the week of the 13th talking about her work in uncovering the abuses of Class B dealers and pound seizures.

Last Chance for Animals has information on investigations, campaigns, and more on Class B dealers, including their work that resulted in the downfall of C.C. Baird, “on of the nation’s largest and most notorious dealer.”

– HBO America Undercover is running a documentary on the undercover investigation of Baird that premieres Tuesday, February 21st and 10pm ET/PT. The documentary is called Dealing Dogs: The Betrayal of Man’s Best Friend.

1. this and other quotes from McDonald’s presentation to the Jackson County Agencies, 8/9/04. Photos are used with permission of Last Chance for Animals and McDonald.

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