Animal Testing

 

Key Statistics Published by the Home Office, July 2014

  • 3,554 dogs were used in experiments in 2013 in the UK
  • 4,779 experiments were conducted on dogs in 2013 in the UK
  • The number of dogs used in experiments increased by 11 per cent from 2012
  • Since 2007, 23,854 dogs have been used in 34,669 tests

The problem

Very few procedures involving dogs in the UK are related to fundamental research aimed at improving human and/or animal health. Most experiments carried out on dogs are for toxicity testing. The dogs may be injected with, or force fed drugs and chemicals and then observed for signs of adverse (toxic) effects that can include vomiting, internal bleeding, organ damage, seizures, and even death. Suffering, pain and distress is implicit in toxicity testing.   

FRAME (Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments) Life President, Professor Michael Balls, and the BUAV's (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection)  Dr Jarrod Bailey and Michelle Thew recently undertook the most comprehensive analysis to date of the use of dogs to predict toxicity in humans and concluded that using dogs in experiments to predict how humans will react to new drugs is not scientifically justifiable.

Although legislation is already in place to protect the welfare of animals used in experiments, an undercover investigation on one laboratory carried out by the BUAV in 2013 found that over an eight month period, tests were carried out on puppies as young as four weeks old; puppies were routinely killed from five weeks of age; and that healthy female Beagles were killed once their puppies were taken away. In total 92 Beagle puppies and ten adult nursing female Beagles were killed at the facility.

The KC view

The Kennel Club is broadly opposed to animal testing, and in particular the use of dogs in cosmetic testing, chemical toxicology and drug safety evaluation. Whilst we acknowledge that testing is required by national and international legislation, we believe animal testing should be kept to an absolute minimum and be used only when alternative testing is not possible.   

The Kennel Club supports and funds the work of FRAME to carry out research projects on the use of dogs in laboratories, with the aim of developing a scientific strategy to minimise, and eventually eliminate, the use of dogs in biomedical research and testing. It has also previously given project funding through the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.

The Kennel Club strongly supports the principles of the three R's (Refinement, Reduction and Replacement), as the guiding principles which underpin the humane use of animals in scientific research:

  • Refinement: improving scientific procedures and husbandry to minimise potential pain and suffering and improve animal welfare in situations where the use of animals is unavoidable.
  • Reduction: improving test methods to enable researchers to obtain comparable levels of information from fewer animals or more information from the same number of animals.
  • Replacement: finding replacements to animal testing e.g. computer modelling.

In spite of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act of 1986, which insists that no animal experiments be conducted if there is a realistic alternative, and various other animal welfare legislation, evidence suggests more needs to be done to ensure dogs are not used in testing unnecessarily; that more resources are made available for alternative testing methods; and that the highest possible standards of animal welfare are adhered to by animal testing establishments.

Potential solutions

We believe the number of live experiments could be reduced by:

  1. Reconsidering animal testing on dogs in light of the availability of replacement methods, which are increasingly as good as, and sometimes better than, the equivalent animal procedures.
  2. Making it compulsory for establishments to justify the use of animal testing on dogs in terms of the real benefit derived from testing, in light of new research on the usefulness of dogs in toxicity testing.
  3. Making it compulsory for establishments that use animals for research to address the various associated animal welfare issues including breeding, transport, housing, nutrition, health, handling and, where necessary, the euthanasia of the animals.
  4. Increasing funding to develop alternatives to animal testing.
  5. Preventing the construction of any facility that breeds dogs solely for the purpose of animal testing. 
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Animal Testing Briefing

Related Topics

Animal Welfare

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