Capitol Hill staffers spent their lunch hour with some furry friends in the Rayburn building today. But behind their cute little beagle faces, these pups had a message to share: support Representative Tony Cárdenas’s CARE Act, which would require breeding facilities to give animals to adoption centers after they are used.
The beagles were a few of the 4,000 dogs rescued from the Envigo breeding facility in Cumberland, Virginia (Meghan Markle and Prince Harry adopted a dog from the same group) that made national news in July. A federal judge ordered all dogs to be removed from the facility after investigations from various government agencies found dozens of federal violations.
You’d never know about their painful pasts from their cheerful demeanors today, though. Hunter, a three month old, was running from person to person, giving kisses and cuddles to everyone he met. Hunter had been in the facility just one week before he was rescued in August, and his adoptive mom Karen said that he had already gotten a parasite in that short time.
Lucy, who is two and a half, has some lasting behavioral effects, her owner Rachel told Washingtonian. She had never been housebroken, which has continued to be a challenge for them since she was rescued on July 24. But Rachel and her husband immediately bonded with her. They’d initially planned to foster Lucy, but Rachel’s husband turned to her and said, “We are not sending her back.”
Now, Lucy, Hunter, and the other friendly fur babies are able to convey how important it is to provide caring homes are for animals that have been in research facilities.
While attendees were taking turns fan-girling over the special guests, they were also given clear instructions by Representative Cárdenas: share how cute these animals are with your family and friends—and tell your bosses to sign my bill.
The Companion Animal Release from Experiments (CARE) Act would require all laboratories that receive federal money to report what is done when the animals are no longer being used for testing, to ensure they don’t end up in places that will euthanize them. States that have enacted similar laws have seen very high compliance, Cárdenas said. He introduced the federal law last October.
Cárdenas has put a lot of faith in these little doggos. He told Washingtonian, “We want to create awareness so that we can get momentum, and hopefully all of my colleagues will sponsor the bill and we’ll get it to the president’s desk.”
At least four other representatives gave a verbal “yes” during the event: Madeleine Dean (D-Pennsylvania); Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas); Angie Craig (D-Minnesota); and Darrell Issa (R-California). Although no representatives from Virginia have yet committed to the bill, Cárdenas said his staff is working on it.
Cárdenas hopes this bill will also start a conversation about outlawing animal testing all together. “We are trying to attack this problem from many, many different angles,” he said.