THEATRE OF DEBATE

DIGITAL DRAMA

THE RSPCA and Animal Experiments Statement

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Photographs from 'Every Breath',Theatre of Debate ® workshop
The RSPCA is opposed to experiments that cause animals pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm.

• The Society’s ultimate aim is the replacement of animal experiments with humane alternatives. The RSPCA campaigns for measures that will help to challenge the necessity of and justification for animal use, and avoid or replace animal experiments. Until this can be achieved, animals used in research should receive humane and compassionate treatment at all times. The Society therefore also strives to reduce the number of animals used, minimise and preferably avoid suffering, and improve welfare.

• Animals are used for a very broad range of purposes, only some of which are classified as medical research. Other purposes include basic biology research to find out how humans and other animals function, and the safety testing of non-pharmaceutical substances including agricultural chemicals.

• All research is ultimately done in the interest of humans, even if it also benefits non-human animals in some way. For example, vaccines for livestock prevent disease but also increase productivity (and profits), and new veterinary treatments prolong the lives of companion animals for the benefit of humans who are emotionally attached to them.

• Research and testing causes animals to suffer - not all experiments are “mild, a simple injection or a change in diet”. Animals who are used to “model” conditions that are painful and distressing to humans will often experience suffering too. For example, animals are used to study pain, depression, anxiety, withdrawal from drugs and some very distressing conditions such as septic shock. Some experiments, such as acute toxicology studies or tests to see whether batches of vaccine are effective, can cause substantial suffering.

• It is not only experiments that cause suffering - early separation from their mothers at breeding establishments, transport and husbandry in the laboratory can also cause animals discomfort, pain and distress. Laboratory animals are usually killed following experiments.

• Most laboratory animals, such as rodents and rabbits, will instinctively conceal suffering because in the wild they would lose their social status or be eaten by a predator if they showed that they were vulnerable. This means that discomfort, pain or distress may often go undetected - so it is not possible to make sweeping statements about levels of suffering in laboratory animals. The public also cannot find out how much animals suffer in practice, as that information is not gathered and released by the Home Office.

• Laboratory housing is highly inadequate from an animal’s point of view. Even the largest caging represents just a fraction of the home range of each species and many animals experience boredom and frustration. This is true even if they have been bred for research - if animals such as laboratory rats are released into a more natural environment, they immediately start to behave almost exactly like their wild ancestors (see www.ratlife.org).

• There is not enough effort to replace animals or to avoid their use. More resources need to be invested in finding alternatives to safety tests that currently use animals and the requirements for the tests need to be questioned more critically. This applies to other areas such as medical, veterinary and biological research, where the necessity of and For more information about the work of the RSPCA Research Animals Department, see
www.rspca.org.uk/researchanimals


Penny Hawkins BSc PhD
Deputy Head
RSPCA Research Animals Department



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