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Retired lab animals were euthanized instead of adopted up until just 2 years ago

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Animals that have been experimented on by the US Food and Drug Administration will now be put up for adoption rather than euthanized, thanks to new guidelines.

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 28/02/2020, 15:00, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:32


It was in January 2018 that the FDA, acting on new guidelines, began to retire animals that had been used in chemical research, rather than send them to an early grave.

The updated policy which was eventually publicised in November of last year alters the fortunes of thousands of animals that previously would have been put down following their participation in drug trials.

According to The Telegraph, ex-FDA animals now available for adoption include dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and some farm animals.

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Animals will no longer be euthanized but will instead be sent to shelters to eventually be rehomed.

In a statement to People, an FDA spokesperson said, “The FDA has supported and continues to support the transfer, adoption and retirement of animals that have completed experimentations and meet applicable eligibility criteria.

“The November 2019 guideline expressly states the eligibility criteria for adoption, retirement and transfer. This is not a procedural change, but a newly approved internal standard guideline developed to provide overarching support to enhance and promote harmonisation of FDA animal research activities.”


Scientific research all over the world includes the study of the effects of drugs (such as nicotine) on live animals. The topic of live animal research is hotly debated and opposed by most animal welfare groups.

The agency's decision is widely supported. Republican Matt Gaetz wrote of the move on Twitter: “I'm a proud co-sponsor of the AFTER Act, which will direct federal agencies to assist with the relocation of these precious animals into sanctuaries and loving homes.”