U.S. Rep. Brian Mast says the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made the right call in ending a series of experiments where cats were infected with a disease, and sometimes fed the meat of other cats or dogs, before being euthanized.
The process, dubbed by some activists as a “kitten slaughterhouse,” involved the study of toxoplasmosis, a foodborne illness. The cats were infected with the disease in order to analyze its effects.
The USDA says the animals were then killed, rather than put up for adoption, in order to protect potential adoptive families.
Mast was joined by Rep. Jimmy Panetta, a California Democrat, in introducing legislation to end the testing.
“These tests are just awful, abusive and unnecessary, not to mention a serious misuse of millions of taxpayer dollars,” Mast said regarding the need for the bill.
NBC News had also reported on the practice of feeding some of those animals meat from dogs and cats purchased from Asian markets.
But Tuesday, the USDA announced it was putting an end to the practice on its own, saying the “toxoplasmosis research has been redirected and the use of cats as part of any research protocol in any [Agriculture Research Service] laboratory has been discontinued and will not be reinstated.”
Mast, a Stuart Republican, praised the decision in a release.
“With all the awful reports coming out, it was clear that Americans opposed USDA’s cruel testing on kittens,” Mast said.
“This is a decisive victory against government animal abuse and wasteful spending. We’ve worked closely with advocates and scientists to stop the USDA’s abuse and I am grateful to Secretary (Sonny) Perdue for his leadership in ensuring no more kittens are ever used in research and that the last cats remaining at USDA can be adopted.
“Now, other agencies need to follow suit and put a permanent end to abusive and painful animal testing.”