USDA Lab Sued for Killing Kittens

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on September 12, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Animal Parasitic Disease Lab, a USDA lab in Beltsville, Maryland, has been hit with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over its refusal to hand over information regarding its killing of approximately 3,000 two-month-old kittens involved in scientific experiments related to food borne illnesses.

Though it is believed that the kittens were healthy after going through the experiment, they were still euthanized. The Washington D.C. watchdog group, White Coat Waste Project, wants the testing that has been transpiring at this lab for the last 50 years to end, and until it does, the group wants the kittens sent out for adoption.


This isn't the first hit the USDA has taken over its inhumane treatment of kittens. In May 2018, Republican Rep. Mike Bishop and Democratic Rep. Jimmy Panetta introduced a bill to stop the USDA from using cats and kittens in its experiments, dubbed "Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now Act of 2018," or KITTEN Act. Evidently in this age of divisive politics, the death of innocent kittens are one thing both parties can agree on. Bishop sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue expressing his concern over its treatment of kittens, and asked questions about this research. But USDA has only vaguely responded, saying the cats were "essential" to its research.

UDSA Animal Testing

The USDA is required to provide an annual report on the number of animals it uses each year. Over 820,000 animals were used in 2016, up 7% from the previous year. New Jersey used the most, at 70,812, mostly hamsters. Though geographically small, New Jersey is the headquarters for many pharmaceutical companies. California, a hotbed for genetic and biomedical companies, was second at nearly 69,000, mostly rabbits. These figures do not include animals kept in research facilities but not tested upon, nor do they include counts for animals not covered by the Animal Welfare Act, such as mice, rats, and fish.

If you believe that a government or private corporate lab near you is treating lab animals inhumanely, contact the White Coat Waste Project or the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

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