News Index > Sortable News 10/06 - now > July 2012
UK concedes total ban on the use of stray cats and dogs in experiments

BUAV delighted as government concedes total ban on the use of stray cats and dogs in experiments


The BUAV, the leading organisation campaigning to end animal experiments, has today welcomed the decision by the UK Government to introduce a legislative ban on the use of stray animals, such as cats and dogs, in experiments. The news comes as draft regulations were published today by the Home Office, to transfer EU regulations into UK law.

After a public consultation last year, it appeared that a current policy ban on using stray animals would be withdrawn. The BUAV launched a vigorous campaign to maintain the ban which was widely supported by the public and MPs. The draft regulations now state that project licences must include 'a condition to the effect that a stray animal of a domestic species must not be subjected to a regulated procedure as part of the specified programme of work'.

The new regulations, which will update the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, have been published in draft prior to limited Parliamentary scrutiny in the autumn. While the prohibition on the use of strays and Great Apes is to be welcomed, many important issues have been omitted from the draft regulations. For example:

Despite the Directive opening the possibility for a less strict inspecting regime than the UK currently has, the Government has pledged to maintain a 'strong and properly resourced inspectorate'. It is difficult to see how this can be achieved, however, when the number of inspectors continues to fall.

There is no sign of progress on the issue of transparency, despite the public consultation resulting in overwhelming support for reform of Section 24 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The Government has already admitted that Section 24 is incompatible with the new Directive, but has continued to stall by announcing a further consultation on the subject. This further delay means that animals will continue to endure suffering while the public continues to be kept in the dark about what goes on in laboratories.

The Government has also failed to rule out some of the most severe experiments permitted by the Directive, opening the way for inescapable electric shock to be used to induce learned helplessness; animals bred deliberately with genetic disorders which will result in persistent suffering; dogs and non-human primates left in total isolation for long periods of time.

There will be no opportunity for the majority of MPs to debate the new rules, after it was decided that they will instead be examined by a committee, before going to the House of Lords, when Parliament resumes in the autumn. The European Commission requires that they come into force by January 1 next year.

The BUAV Chief Executive Michelle Thew said, "We welcome the Government's decision to introduce a legislative ban on the use of stray animals in experiments. This was an issue raised by the BUAV and one which received strong public and political concern. Elsewhere in the regulations, although pleased that the Government has maintained stricter UK standards in some areas, we are disappointed these regulations come only a week after figures showed the number of animals being used in experiments reaching an all-time high since the 1986 Act was introduced. These are issues which the public care deeply about, and all MPs should have the chance to give their views in a debate in the House of Commons."

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