Millions of animals are used in Australia each year for research and teaching. Some of these animals are perfectly healthy, but at the end of experiments they are usually killed simply because researchers have no further use for them.
The Code of Practice covering laboratory animals says:
“Opportunities to rehome animals should be considered wherever possible, especially when the impact of the project or activity on the wellbeing of the animal has been minimal …”
Good idea, right? Except that in most cases it doesn’t happen. In SA the situation is even worse because we have no idea how many animals are used for research and teaching, which species, or what kinds of procedures they are subjected to. This is because the government refuses to publish statistics, unlike in other states, such as NSW and Vic. As a result, we have no idea of how many animals could potentially be rehomed. It also means we have no idea of whether researchers are following the 3Rs principle, as they are supposed to: Reduce, Refine, Replace the use of animals in research.
What you can do
1. Please send an email to Environment Minister Ian Hunter, asking him to tell us the numbers of animals in SA. The email doesn’t have to be long – 1 or 2 sentences is enough. Animal experimentation is an issue of public concern and the government has an obligation to be open and transparent about how it is conducted. Without statistics, we don’t know how many animals could be rehomed from labs. Email email@example.com
2. Support the campaign by Humane Research Australia to have statistics on animal experimentation collated and published nationally. There is an email ready to send at Humane Research Australia – scroll to the bottom of the page.
One happy ending
Leo the cat is one of the lucky ones who was rehomed from a lab. A Sydney research facility using cats in a study aimed at improving surgical techniques for vision correction in humans, ran out of funding. Luckily for Leo one of the researchers had a conscience, and allowed a rescue group to find a home for him, rather than end his life, or offer him up for further research elsewhere. By this stage Leo had already endured invasive procedures, including the removal of his nictitating membranes (third eyelids) and surgery (corneal pocket) to his right eye. Prior to this Leo had been used in vaccination studies at a different facility. Since he was adopted, Leo has never looked back. See Leo’s story.