Cruel & Unethical – “The question is not, can they reason? nor, can they talk? but, can they suffer?”
All animal experiments are licensed by the Home Office under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 as likely to ’cause pain, suffering or lasting harm.’
The majority of experiments (65% in 1998) are conducted without using any anaesthetic, and animals that do not die as a result of an experiment, are killed at the end of the procedure (some animals are used in more than one procedure).
The BUAV opposes all animal experiments on ethical and scientific grounds.
We believe that all animals have the right to a life free from deliberate harm, pain, suffering and torment.
Vivisection is surely one of modern society’s grossest abuses of non-human animals, the deliberate and systematic infliction of pain, sickness, injury and death on sentient creatures.
Sanctioned by our government, millions of animals each year are legally poisoned, burned, mutilated, electrocuted, brain damaged, paralysed, infected with disease, genetically manipulated, surgically altered, psychologically tormented and killed.
Like humans, all animals are capable of feeling physical pain and suffering, and to varying degrees they too can experience fear, stress, boredom, depression and psychological distress.
Exposing animals to systematic physical or emotional abuse in a laboratory, for whatever reason, is morally unjustifiable.
The vast majority of dog procedures are for toxicity (poisoning) testing.
The dogs are dosed with a test substance such as an insecticide, a pharmaceutical or industrial chemical.
This is administered by mouth (capsules added to food or by ‘gavage’ where a tube is forced down the throat and the substance pumped directly into the stomach);
by injection (the substance injected directly into the bloodstream); by inhalation (where the dog is forced to breathe in a test substance) or less usually, applied to the skin and eyes.
Doses may be given once or repeatedly over several weeks, months or up to one year.
Chemical safety testing, using most of the methods above, can last for up to 24 months.
The dogs are then isolated in individual housing so that the resultant toxic effects can be observed.
Toxic effects include vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive salivation, body tremors and unsteady gait, inflammation and discharge and internal organ damage.
All dogs will either die as a result of the experiment, or be killed at the end of this or subsequent procedures.
Dogs are highly intelligent, sentient and social animals with a complex range of physical as well as emotional needs.
There can be no question that subjecting dogs to such serious toxic effects obviously causes severe pain and suffering.
As any attentive dog owner will testify, dogs are also capable of feeling fear and of recognising and reacting to a familiar but unpleasant action.
Just as the abused dog will learn to fear the raised stick that reminds him of previous painful beatings, so too do laboratory dogs suffer the emotional trauma of having to submit to distressing procedures they have repeatedly endured.
As part of the BUAV’s Secret Suffering campaign, undercover investigator Sarah Kite revealed her eye-witness accounts of beagle toxicity experiments at contract testing company Huntingdon Research Centre.
On one occasion, on being sent to collect dogs for dosing with an anti-dental plague agent, she found beagles “petrified and cowered in their cages.
They laid on their backs, their bodies pressed firmly against the furthest corner of the cage, their legs pitifully stretched out in front of them.
Many of the beagles were shaking, others went rigid with fear. These animals knew exactly what was about to happen to them.”
In another account she describes how many dogs struggled, choked and regurgitated capsules containing a component of food-wrapping that was being forced down their throat.
Even in-between procedures, the dogs continued to exhibit signs of psychological distress.
She recalls that whilst cleaning out their cages, dogs were often “visibly shaking and often so scared that they were unable to leave their cages whilst I cleaned them out.
Instead they remained cringing in the corner and I had to clean around them.”
As highly intelligent and social animals, dogs require a great deal of individual love and attention in order for them to remain emotionally balanced and fulfilled.
Every dog has a different and distinct set of personality traits and emotional requirements which, in the home environment, a responsible dog owner can recognise and respond to.
As pack animals, dogs need to feel a part of a group or family unit in order to feel secure, and the love, care and attention that the family gives their dog is essential for its emotional welfare.
A dog in the laboratory however, receives none of this individual love and attention.
Its naturally trusting nature and craving for human interaction is betrayed on a daily basis, and the only close human contact it is likely to receive is during painful and distressing procedures.
All dogs also require a good deal of daily outdoor exercise, play and stimulation.
They need to explore different sights and smells, have the opportunity to run freely in order to keep their muscles and heart healthy and to use up their boundless energy.
None of this vital environmental enrichment can ever be reproduced in the laboratory.
In some cases the only exercise a laboratory dog may receive is a short period (maybe 20 minutes) to pace up and down an enclosed corridor of cages whilst its own cage is being cleaned out.
They lead an enclosed, isolated existence bereft of comfort or stimulation, and such deprivation can easily result in severely disturbed and depressed animals.