The practice of using animals for lab research is incredibly controversial, but at least now there’s a future for some of the dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and farm animals that have been subject to experiments. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently changed its policy to allow healthy lab animals to be adopted, transferred, or retired to shelters or sanctuaries, after they have been used for research, The Hill reported. Previously, all lab animals were euthanized after they were no longer needed.

In 2019, Maine Senator Susan Collins introduced the Animal Freedom from Testing, Experiments, and Research Act, which would put in place a federal policy for post-lab animal adoptions. In a statement to The Hill, she said, “There is no reason why regulated research animals that are suitable for adoption or retirement should be killed by our federal agencies. I’m pleased that the FDA has joined the NIH and VA in enacting a lab animal retirement policy.”

Regardless of what happens post-lab testing, many still categorically oppose the use of animals in testing, and this new policy isn’t likely to change that. Luckily, the United States 2020 budgetary spending bill sets goals for reducing the use of dogs and cats in federally funded medical research. It’s the first time Congress has taken steps to discourage the use of animals for scientific testing, which, combined with the new adoption opportunities, marks an important step in the right direction.

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