According to a report released by a watchdog group, between 2003 and 2015 the U.S. government conducted experiments in which scientists euthanized dogs and cats from overseas and fed their remains to laboratory cats for research.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's lab in Maryland reportedly purchased 400 dogs from Colombia, Brazil and Vietnam and over 100 cats from China and Ethiopia for the research, according to NBC News, which added that not only were dog remains fed to cats but cat remains were injected into mice.
The watchdog group, the White Coat Waste Project (WCWP), gleaned its data from USDA research publications. The group’s report stated, "Some of these cats and dogs were purchased by the government from the same Asian meat markets that the U.S. Congress roundly condemned in a House Resolution" in 2018.
The USDA’s own reports said some of the experiments were intended to analyze forms of a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. NBC News added, “The experiments were carried out at the USDA's Agricultural Research Service's Animal Parasitic Disease Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. The facility was already under fire from some lawmakers for killing cats intentionally infected with T. Gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis.”
Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), who has cosponsored legislation called the Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now — or KITTEN — Act, stated, "The details of these kitten experiments keep getting worse and they need to end now. The fact that the USDA has been rounding up pets and other innocent dogs and cats in foreign countries —including at Chinese meat markets condemned by Congress — killing them and feeding them to lab cats back here in the States is simply disgusting and unjustifiable."
Mast also stated, "The fact that we need a piece of legislation to tell the federal government to stop killing kittens is ridiculous on its face. But what's even worse is, when you hear the details that the government is actually breeding hundreds of these cats just to intentionally feed them parasite-ridden raw meat and then kill them even though they're perfectly healthy."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Toxoplasmosis is considered to be a leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States. More than 40 million men, women, and children in the U.S. carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but very few have symptoms because the immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness.However, women newly infected with Toxoplasma during or shortly before pregnancy and anyone with a compromised immune system should be aware that toxoplasmosis can have severe consequences.
WCW vice president of advocacy and public policy Justin Goodman stated that the scientists have enough samples and thus they should not continue killing cats, arguing, "They just don't need to do it anymore; it's scientifically unnecessary.”
NBC News noted:
The studies conducted using animals from China said "the cats were killed humanely according to PRC laws for slaughtering of food animal (sic)." The WCW report calls that claim "concerning and deceptive," and pointed to the 2018 Congressional resolution condemning the Chinese facilities. The resolution said the treatment of dogs and cats in the Chinese facilities "would breach anti-cruelty laws in the United States."
According to the WCW, roughly 4,000 cats have been killed for the research.