News of horrific experiments on dogs, many of whom had been beloved pets stolen from backyards, inspired the founding of NAVS in 1929. While federal laws now regulate where dogs used in research come from and how they are housed, there is no law to prohibit or restrict how these companion animals are used in experiments. NAVS has worked tirelessly to advance compelling ethical and scientific arguments that prove dogs are not the answer to human health problems.
While the number of dogs used in research has been declining, ending research on dogs once and for all remains one of our top priorities. Towards this ultimate goal, NAVS is working to increase the transparency surrounding dog experiments—and experiments on all animals—by filing a petition for rulemaking with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). We also uncovered the fact that the National Institutes of Health’s plan to stop using dogs from Class B dealers for their research (which was widely praised by many animal advocates) simply replaced that source of animals when it created and still supports a Class B-like dog breeding program. In addition, NAVS is promoting state legislative efforts to ensure that dogs and cats that were once used in research are made available for adoption rather than euthanized.
As we continue our efforts to end the use of dogs in research, we are pleased to see that this important matter has been making news headlines recently. An article in the San Diego Union Tribune by Dr. Larry Hansen, professor of neuroscience and pathology at the University of California-San Diego, nicely summarized why it is time to stop using “man’s best friend” in research.
Dr. Hansen, who once reluctantly participated in dog experimentation in medical school because his professors told him it was “necessary,” later came to understand that such experiments never needed to be done. Many questions have since been raised about whether dogs “need” to be used in other areas of science as well.
The argument against using dogs as models for humans in research is quite compelling. Not only do the vast majority of drugs that pass preclinical animal tests, including those in dogs, fail in people, these kinds of tests waste a great deal of time and money, as it takes over 13 years and $1 billion to develop a new drug. Are these preclinical animal tests really “necessary” if they don’t work? The utilization of more human-relevant approaches that do not rely on animal models would be a better use of resources.
In his article, Dr. Hansen quotes Matthew Scully, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, who writes, “When you start with a necessary evil, and then over time the necessity passes away, what’s left?” Hansen himself answers that question: what’s left is “just evil.”
Fortunately, progress is being made to end the evil. Just last week, members of Congress requested that the Government Accountability Office conduct a review regarding the accountability and transparency of federal animal experiments. This effort, coupled with NAVS’ endeavors to improve reporting and accountability of animal experiments through USDA annual reports, is essential to understanding where and how animals are used in research, testing and teaching. This is a required step to help determine how well the 3 R’s—reduction, refinement and replacement of animal use—are being implemented in this country.
READ MORE: Learn more about the use of Dogs in Research on the NAVS website.
Source: Hansen, L. “Lab experiments on dogs cruel and unnecessary.” The San Diego Union Tribune. December 15, 2016.