Senator Wiener’s PET Act, Ending Harmful and Unnecessary Chemical Testing on Dogs and Cats, Signed into Law

September 26, 2022

SACRAMENTO - Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Senator Scott Wiener’s (D-San Francisco) Senate Bill 879, also known as the PET (Prohibiting Extraneous Testing) Act.

The PET Act ends the suffering of cats and dogs by prohibiting these household pets from being used in toxicity tests for products such as pesticides, chemical substances and food additives. This bill includes exemptions for testing for the development of products intended for use in dogs or cats including anesthesia, cancer treatment, animal vaccines, other animal medicines, or flea and tick products. Additionally, SB 879 does not impact testing required by federal laws or regulations.

The use of animals to test substances intended for human use is unreliable, does not truly ensure human safety, and has serious scientific limitations. For example, nearly 90 percent of drugs first tested on animals end up failing when subsequently tested on people, with about half failing due to unanticipated toxicity when tested on humans. Much of the current toxicity testing on these animals is inhumane, unnecessary, and ultimately does not further scientific research on toxicity in humans. 

Toxicity testing exposes animals to chemicals (including industrial and consumer products, and food additives) as an attempt to understand what harms may be caused to humans by these chemicals. This testing is frequently excruciatingly painful for animals. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, this testing varies in duration, and animals are observed for toxic effects including: vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, respiratory distress, appetite or weight loss, rashes, salivation, paralysis, lethargy, bleeding, organ abnormalities, tumors, and even death. 

Dogs used in testing are bred to live their entire lives confined in laboratory settings and are forced to undergo invasive procedures, such as having chemicals forced down their throat or into their lungs. Some tests may involve intentionally administering a chemical over a prolonged period to determine the lethality of the substance, causing slow and painful deaths. SB 879 will prohibit those tests for certain products and ensure that cats are not subject to the same conditions.

The PET Act prohibits this unnecessary and harmful testing, while allowing for testing involving products for pets, and testing required by federal agencies. 

The PET Act is sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States.

“Animal testing that has no scientific value and causes terrible pain and suffering is inhumane, unnecessary, and cruel,” said Senator Scott Wiener. “The PET Act protects cats and dogs from this type of testing, and helps these animals live long, healthy lives. Thank you, Governor Newsom, for standing up for animals.”