The Use of Cats and Dogs as Laboratory Animals

Should cats and dogs be used as laboratory animals?
Robert Baker and Caren Broadhead. ANZCCART, P. O. Box 19, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia; and FRAME, Russell & Burch House, 96-98 North Shrewood Street, Nottingham NG1 4EE, UK

@Cats and dogs are used worldwide in scientific procedures. The purposes for their use include toxicity testing of chemicals, fundamental research, the development of human and veterinary vaccines and the teaching of anatomy and surgical techniques. In the UK, the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 requires that the costs and benefits of a proposed research project are assessed, before a project licence is granted. Furthermore, for certain species of animal including cats and dogs, additional justification is required to show that no other species is suitable, or practicably available. Despite this legislation, in the UK in 1997, dogs were used in 7,490 procedures and cats were used in 1,446 procedures. Thousands more procedures were conducted worldwide. The basis for the additional justification that is required in the UK is not clear. It is likely that these species are speciallyy protected due to their status as companion ammals. In Australia, the use of animals for research, teaching and testing is controlled by the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes, 1997. This requires, among other things that the choice of species is appropriate for the purpose of the project. While very few dogs and cats are used for scientific procedures in Australia, the issue is very contentious and the subject of much discussion. In this workshop, the case for, and against, the use of companion animals will be discussed. The ethical and practical issues surrounding the use of cats and dogs will be explored, and compared with the issues involved in using alternative species. The main question that will be addressed is whether a clear rationale exists or specifying that cats and dogs should not be used if an alternative species is suitable for the programme of work.