Betraying ‘Man’s Best Friend’: The Torment of Dogs in Laboratories
Thousands of dogs are used for experimentation each year in UK laboratories. Many of these dogs, most of whom are beagles, are subjected to painful, debilitating, and pointless tests. Experimenters imprison them behind bars or in pens, and their gentle, trusting nature is met not with kindness but rather with pain and suffering.
A shocking 3,847 procedures were conducted using dogs in the UK in 2017 alone.
Dogs Are Treated Like Test Tubes
Experimenters see these dogs as a means to an end. Most dogs are not given names, only numbers, as though they were inanimate objects. Many die or are killed without ever having left the facility.
Outrageously, Abusing and Killing Dogs in Experiments Is Legal
Most people see dogs as beloved companions and family members. For centuries, humans have even intentionally bred dogs to be emotionally dependent on our affection. Many imagine that it must be illegal to experiment on and kill dogs. Unfortunately, it’s not, and whole industries subject dogs to a plethora of experiments. Here are some examples:
- Dogs are deliberately made sick for human disease studies.
At the Royal Veterinary College campus near Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, experimenters deliberately breed a colony of dogs with the canine equivalent of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. These animals suffer from the devastating effects of the disease – many become too weak to walk, and some struggle even to breathe. They regularly undergo invasive procedures like muscle biopsies and are routinely killed when they’re just 18 months old.
- Dogs are fed chemicals.
Dogs are often used in toxicology studies, in which they may be repeatedly subjected to a crude and harmful procedure known as “gavage”. They’re repeatedly force-fed an experimental chemical through a thick plastic tube that’s forced down their throats so that the substance can be pumped directly into the stomach. In some studies, the substance is injected directly into the dogs’ bloodstream through a “port” that’s implanted in their veins. Common test substances include experimental pharmaceuticals and pesticides. Typically, the dogs are killed at the end of the study, their bodies dissected, and their organs “harvested”.
- Dogs are abused in laboratories across Europe.
Early in 2019, experimenters conducted disturbing dentistry experiments in Sweden using six black Labradors. Mimosa, Milia, Luna, Venus, Lotus, and Zuri likely experienced swelling and bleeding after their teeth were removed and their gums cut apart, in addition to being put at risk of suffering from chronic pain from nerve damage or infection. All six were killed and dissected at the end of the experiment.
PETA obtained footage revealing that experimenters in a French laboratory deliberately bred dogs to develop painful, crippling muscle diseases. A laboratory employee admitted that the dogs suffer. He said, “I wouldn’t like to be in the beagle’s place. The suffering is real.”
‘Man’ Is Not Dog’s Best Friend
Beagles became the dog of choice for the animal-experimentation industry because they’re naturally docile and a convenient size. Even when they’re being abused, these gentle animals often won’t bite in self-defence. In a true perversion of decency and morality, their trusting and kind nature has been seized upon by experimenters as a weakness and an opportunity for exploitation.
How Do Laboratories Obtain Dogs?
A multimillion-pound global industry is devoted to breeding and selling dogs for experimentation. Laboratories may obtain these animals in a number of ways:
- Dogs are bred in the UK specifically to be used in experiments, and those who are deemed surplus to requirements are often killed. In 2017, 1,155 dogs were born in the UK at licensed facilities and 97 were killed for reasons such as being the wrong sex, because more animals had been bred than were needed, or so that their tissues could be harvested.
- Some facilities, like the Royal Veterinary College, have their own in-house breeding colonies of dogs who are born and die within the walls of their laboratory. Puppies bred to have human diseases may be killed within 48 hours if they fail to gain weight.
- Dogs are also bred outside the UK and transported here to be used in experiments. In 2017, 1,201 dogs born outside of the EU ended up in UK laboratories. They were likely forced into tiny crates to endure long and gruelling journeys in the cargo holds of planes.
Our Work to Keep Dogs Out of Laboratories
PETA is in the vanguard of efforts to end experimentation on dogs. We and our international affiliates have secured a number of victories and precedents on this front, raising awareness of laboratory cruelty and sparing countless dogs suffering and a painful death. Here are some examples:
- In 1983, PETA US revealed the US Department of Defense’s plans to shoot dogs, pigs, goats, and monkeys at a highly controversial and costly military complex, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland. The laboratory subsequently closed, and the shooting of dogs and cats for similar purposes was permanently halted.
- In 1988, PETA US conducted a year-long eyewitness investigation at Biosearch, a cosmetics and household-product testing laboratory, uncovering more than 100 violations of federal and state anti-cruelty laws. Laboratory personnel nicknamed a young beagle “Doomed” and “Dead Meat”. She lived at Biosearch for six days before being used in a short-term intravenous glucose study. An offer to adopt her was rejected, and she was killed.
- In 2007, PETA US scientists persuaded the US government to end year-long pesticide poisoning tests on dogs. In 2013 and 2016, similar victories were secured in the EU and Canada, respectively. In 2018, the governments of Japan and South Korea also dropped the year-long pesticide test.
- In 2009, after nearly a month of intense PETA US campaigning against horrific combat training exercises conducted by the Bolivian military – in which live dogs were tied down and repeatedly stabbed, causing them to scream in agony – the Bolivian Ministry of Defence ended the killing by issuing the military’s first-ever animal-protection regulation, which prohibited “all acts of violence, exploitation, [and] mistreatment that provokes the death of animals”.
- In 2012, PETA India and other animal-protection groups rigorously campaigned for the release of 70 beagles who were being transported from China to a laboratory in Bangalore, India. The supplier, Beijing Marshall Biotechnology Co, Ltd, had misinformed the airline and the Indian authorities by falsely stating on the required transport documents that the dogs would be “pets”, rather than being used and killed in experiments. However, instead of spending life in a laboratory, all 70 dogs were handed over to animal-protection groups to be placed in loving homes.
- In 2017, PETA US released a video exposé of Liberty Research, Inc, in New York state. The company breeds and sells both dogs and cats for experimentation and also carries out testing on behalf of major international drug companies such as Merck, Zoetis, and Bayer.
In one experiment, a worker drilled into the skulls of 30 dogs – some of whom whimpered during the process, having not been adequately anesthetised – and injected distemper virus into their brains. As a result of the investigation and complaints by PETA US, the US Department of Agriculture and the New York State Department of Health cited Liberty for 12 violations of state and federal laws. State officials subsequently denied the laboratory’s attempt to renew its licence, effectively suspending its experiments on animals for more than three months. PETA US is working to shut down this abusive facility entirely.
Experimenting on Dogs and Other Animals Is Bad Science
It’s not just dogs who are cut open, drilled into, and killed for experiments. Cats, monkeys, rabbits, rats, and other animals also suffer – and each and every one is an individual who feels pain and fear and yearns to be free. Experiments using animals are unethical and wasteful, and they can produce vastly misleading results because of fundamental biological and metabolic differences between species.
What You Can Do for Animals in Laboratories
PETA and our international affiliates have successfully ended many experiments on animals – but it’s time to drive a nail into the coffin of all such experimentation. With your help, we can end the suffering of the millions of animals enduring unspeakable horrors in laboratories.
Please click the button below to take five crucial actions to help animals trapped in laboratories by firing off e-mails to decision-makers and adding your name to petitions and open letters. It only takes 30 seconds, and every signature makes a difference for animals.