Why then, do we abuse their loyalty and use them as mere “research tools”?
While the limited public information available on animals used for research does not specify what breeds of dogs are used, published research papers indicate that it is frequently greyhounds and beagles that are used – beagles because of their friendly, docile temperaments, and greyhounds because of their ‘availability’ when of no further use to the racing industry.
Dogs are used in Australian laboratories for toxicity testing, infection inducement, ‘immunomodulatory methods‘, aversive stimuli behavioural testing, and more. Animal-Free Science Advocacy has also exposed some of the most shocking procedures taking place in Australia, including the use of beagles for pharmaceutical drug testing, and the use of healthy greyhounds for heart surgery experiments, terminal blood donation, and to test dental implants and deep brain stimulation devices.
Animal-Free Science Advodacy is opposed to the use of all animals in research and teaching on both ethical and scientific grounds. The use of greyhounds however, is of particular concern when we consider they are discarded from another unethical and very cruel industry.
Dogs are not simply laboratory ‘tools’ for researchers to use at their leisure. These experiments are unethical, unreliable, and unnecessary.
Given the scale of dog experiments in Australia, despite the existence of more ethical and reliable research methods, the question many are left asking is ‘Should “man’s best friend” really be left to continue to suffer in Australian research laboratories?’.
Are experiments on dogs reliable for medical research?
Not only is the thought of subjecting “man’s best friend” to this kind of suffering unthinkable to most; it is also scientifically unreliable.
In 2013, a groundbreaking scientific study (1) showed that the use of dogs in testing human drug safety is not scientifically justifiable. In analysing data from over 2,366 experiments, the study found that the prediction success of using dogs was little better than tossing a coin. A 2020 report recommended the development of a strategic road map to incorporate new approach methodologies, or innovative non-animal approaches, into its biomedical research (2).
Australian researchers should be utilising a battery of advanced human biology-based methods of research in order for results to be directly relevant to human health outcomes – not subjecting dogs to needless suffering and death.
It is now time to end the use of dogs in research laboratories and instead, focus on ethical research that is human-relevant.
1 Bailey, J, Thew, M Balls, M (2013), ‘An Analysis of the Use of Dogs in Predicting Human Toxicology and Drug Safety’, ATLA, 41: 335-350.