I'll be needing my hard hat and tennis shoes for the second tour but for the first tour I can lose the hard hat. Our first stop of the day was at the Pet Health & Nutrition Center in Lewisburg, Ohio, where we meet Dr John Burr the Clinical Scientist who showed us around. He is a really nice guy and I had the opportunity to ask him several questions about the Iams cat food I am feeding Scylla (I'll talk more about that later). This is where they do the animal testing. Here are the facts about how Iams uses animals in research:
- 1/3 of the dogs and cats (about 700) are housed in the Pet Health and Nutrition Center, the remaining 2/3 are privately owned pets who are participating as clinical research trial participants, and pets who belong to private institutions such as Canine Companions for Independence.
- The only procedures performed on the animals, aside from spay and neuters, are those which a healthy human would also volunteer for. Translation? Urine is collected by free catch, for example, instead of cystocentesis. Aside from the occasional venipuncture, there isn’t much they have to deal with.
- There are no euthanasias, no terminal procedures.
I want to reassure you that they do not do any invasive testing. In other words, they do not perform testing that permanently disfigures or maims that animal. They do spay and neuter the animals except the cats they keep intact for breeding purposes. Starting in 2006, Iams began giving each new pet in their care a “life plan”- a commitment to their well being that starts when they enter the facility and follows them through their life until their adoption into a permanent home.
Now you are probably wondering why on earth they breed cats when we all know that there are so many cats looking for homes in animal shelters across our nation, but these cats are a SPF Colony. OK, I know you want to know what SPF means and why it is important. Cats are born at the facility into a SPF (specific pathogen free) colony to avoid the nastiness that is FVRCP, FIP, corona, and all of that yucky viral stuff. Because they are an SPF colony we weren't allowed to interact with them (no petting the cats) but we did get to look at them through windows and they have a CATIO the cats at Katnip Lounge would envy. They can go outside on their Catio whenever they want. Computer programs are used to keep track of what they eat and how much of it. They also have a computer that keeps track of their waste. It's kinda neat the cats are chipped and the chip allows them access to their food, and the chip allows them to know which cat is using the litter-box. They can tell the litter-box (it's not your typical litter-box) to save urine samples or fecal samples. They invented this computer program and the way it works is fantastic. I was very impressed with it. Around 15 cats are housed in each room and they all appear to get along great and they have plenty of space.
The cats were very friendly and came up to the windows. We did get to pet one of the cats that was ready to be adopted. It not only has full run of an office there is a tunnel connecting it to a Kitty Condo (Cage) in the Socialization Room so it can watch TV and spy on any dogs that happen to be in there in comfort. The Cage was comprised of four large cages with access to each other, two across and two up there was a litter box in one, food and water in another, a comfy bed in the next and the tunnel to the office in the last one. And while they have no problem adopting out the dogs (in fact there is a waiting list) they do need homes for the cats. Not to worry though if they can't find a home for them they are prepared to care for them for life. You can read about the adoptions here. They do not charge for the pets and they will provide transportation to wherever you are at if you qualify to adopt one of their pets. They do make sure the cats and dogs go to good homes and most are adopted by employees.
You can read the Pet Care International Animal Welfare Advisory Board Annual Report 2011
I got to know Dr Lorie Huston well she is a veterinarian in Rhode Island and I encourage you to read her post P&G Pet Health and Nutrition Center for further information.
Pet Nutrition 101: Basic Facts About Nutrients in Pet Foods and Iams/Eukanuba Behind the Paw Summit: Leipsic Plant Tour by Lorie Huston DVM first. She explains everything so well.
Arty Mouse is still missing.....................No confirmed sightings...................all I have to go on is what the pet communicator I contacted said.