3.8 Million Animals Suffered in UK Labs Last Year

Posted by on October 22, 2015 | Permalink

The latest figures from the Home Office reveal the extent of animal suffering in UK labs.

White rats in animal testing laboratory

Today, the Home Office released its annual figures on the number of animals who were used in experiments in the UK in 2014.

They reveal pain and suffering on a devastating scale.

Cats, dogs, monkeys, horses and other intelligent, sensitive animals were subjected to more than 3.87 million procedures.

This year, for the first time, experimenters also had to report the actual pain and distress endured by the animals rather than simply predicting levels of suffering before a lab coat was donned and a scalpel drawn. Animals suffered in over 1.9 million “mild”, 557,000 “moderate” and 184,000 “severe” experiments, and thousands more never regained consciousness in experiments classed as “non-recovery”.

But the very system that’s used to assess animals’ suffering shows a chilling lack of compassion.

Rats classed as experiencing only mild pain and discomfort could have a tube forced down their throats to flood their stomachs with drugs every day for months or years, and mice could have toxic chemicals injected into their abdomens and the ends of their tails cut off with no pain relief at all. The classification of “severe” suffering is incomprehensible. Sawing off the top of a dog’s head, electrocuting a rabbit and implanting an electrode in a monkey’s brain are considered to cause only “moderate” pain and distress. These classifications are clearly absurd and serve only to highlight how lightly experimenters take the feelings of their “subjects”.

These experiments need to stop. Contrary to what the regulators seem to think, the pain and terror that these animals experience can’t be neatly classified – animals often hide signs of pain and distress. Nor can it possibly be justified – especially when these tests aren’t even particularly reliable or effective.

The future of science lies in cutting-edge non-animal methodologies, such as organs-on-chips, 3-D human skin cultures, micro-models of the brain and computer models that can accurately predict what happens in human beings. To be on the frontier of science, Britain must commit to funding and implementing only non-animal research.

Please take action against cruel animal tests. Here are three ways to help: