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pet theft

New Law Bans Class "B" Dealers

For over three decades, LCA has worked tirelessly to stop USDA licensed Class "B" animal dealers who obtained dogs and cats from random sources like state, county, or city owned and operated animal pounds/shelter (this is called pound seizure), other USDA licensed “B” dealers, and “bunchers" only to hand them over to research laboratories.

LCA's groundbreaking undercover investigations into Class B dealers helped expose and shut down numerous dog dealers, such as C.C. Baird and Barbara Ruggiero, Frederick Spero, and Ralph Jacobsen, leading LCA to be the first animal rights group to procure state and federal prison sentences for Class "B" dealers in 1991.

While it's impossible to know the exact numbers of stolen pets as many go unreported  historically, an estimated 2 million pets are stolen in the United States each year, many of which are abducted from yards or taken under false pretenses through "free to good home" ads. These companion animals are then sold to puppy mills, research labs, or dog fighting rings. The demise of Class "B" dealers has led to a drastic reduction in these figures, with the help of new legislation. On December 18, 2015, with the passing of the Congress Omnibus Funding Bill, new federal legislation finally phased out this unscrupulous industry altogether and removed all funds for USDA licensing or re-licensing of Class "B" animal dealers. Previously, in 2012, the National Institute of Health (NIH) defunded research on cats obtained from Class "B" dealers, and in 2014, the NIH adopted a similar ban on dogs. Although this dealt a major blow to Class "B" dealer operations, the 2016 spending bill forced all "B" dealers selling dogs and cats to research facilities to shut down their operations.



History of Class "B" Dealers

b dealers 002Buncher admitting how easy it is to sell stolen dogs to Baird

Bunchers fraudulently obtain animals through “free to good home” ads, preying on unsuspecting people who can no longer care for their companions.

They make promises of a good home and tender care, only to turn around and sell the animals, sometimes the same day, to Class “B” dealers.

In attempts to gather as many animals as possible for sale to research institutions, bunchers also frequently steal family pets directly from their owners.


Previously, the only piece of legislation standing between family pets and the unscrupulous “B” dealers who sold them to be tortured in research facilities was the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Enacted in 1966, the AWA requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for most warm-blooded animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public. Unfortunately, the enforcement of the AWA is completely inadequate and millions of family pets have ended up in research facilities as a result.

Class “B” dealers were shown to regularly and willingly do everything in their power to ensure family pets were sold to be tortured in research laboratories. The monetary incentives associated with selling lost and stolen family pets motivated “B” dealers to violate countless laws. Records were falsified, evidence of ownership, such as dog tags, were purposefully destroyed, and no attempt was made to reunite microchipped animals with their families. Instead, these companion animals were kept in often squalid conditions before being sold for use in experimentation.

b dealers aphisThe enforcement of the AWA is the responsibility of the Animal Care division of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which is a part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Government documents show the laws of the AWA severely lack enforcement and APHIS is unable to ensure animals are well cared for. Additionally, violators who are penalized for their infringements consider monetary penalties an accepted cost of conducting business, rather than a disincentive for violating existing laws. As a result, violations of the AWA, including the falsification of records -- the only current way to ensure that family pets do not enter the research animal trade -- continue undeterred.  

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