A beagle who spent all of his life in a research facility is rescued by a caring man and leaves for his forever home. Image Credit: We Animals Media.

Right 2 Release

Animals have the right to be released and rehomed after being in labs

Hundreds of dogs and cats (and other animal species) are used in research in Australia every year. At the conclusion of their “use” they are often killed. Even animals who are healthy may be killed. Animal-Free Science Advocacy along with many other organisations believe that these animals should be given the opportunity to live out their lives in a healthy, happy and thriving manner with people who care for and love them. 

We work with Beagle Freedom Australia and Animal Justice Party to make this happen

For this reason, we are working closely with Beagle Freedom Australia and the Animal Justice Party to implement legislation to make this happen.

In 2013 the Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes was updated and the following clause was inserted:

Opportunities to rehome animals should be considered wherever possible, especially when the impact of the project or activity on the wellbeing of the animal has been minimal and their physiological condition and behavioural attributes indicate that they can be introduced to a new environment with minimal, transient impact on their wellbeing.”

However, this clause is not legally robust. Under this clause, an Animal Ethics Committee needs to only consider rehoming of an animal. There is no legal requirement for them to do so.

The Bionics Institute: Research that Deafens Kittens

Australia risks falling behind other locations around the world

In several states in the USA, the Beagle Freedom Bill has been passed. This means that all tax-payer funded labs must offer their dogs and cats up for adoption through animal rescue organisations, instead of just killing them as the standard procedure.

A man hugging his dog closely.

For this law to pass, the Australian government needs to hear from you!

Great news! NSW passed the Right to Release Legislation in 2022

Right to release - man having a snooze with a beagle

With the help of every one of our supporters, the NSW Government finally listened, making the release of cats and dogs mandatory, after their use in research. On top of this they have implemented a system to make sure animals are not kept for longer than 3 years for research purposes. You can read exactly what they have passed in the Animal Research Amendment (Right to Release) Act 2022 here. This new legislation was put into place from the 25th of November 2022.

Right to Release in Victoria 

In February 2021, Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick addressed the Victorian Parliament calling for it to be made mandatory for dogs and cats used in laboratories to be rehabilitated and rehomed. A month later, Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas announced a new Taskforce on Rehoming Pets. Part of the remit of the taskforce was increasing rehoming of dogs and cats used in research with the following themes identified:
– how to improve information and advice for scientific organisations and animal ethics committees to support the successful rehoming of dogs and cats used in research and teaching
– how to further develop and implement the successful rehoming of dogs and cats used in research and teaching.

Animal-Free Science Advocacy submitted a comprehensive submission to the taskforce and reinforced the limited transparency in animal research in Victoria as a barrier to achieving the above. In December 2021, after extensive consultation with the pet rehoming and animal welfare sectors, the Taskforce delivered its final report to Government with 17 recommendations. After reviewing the taskforce recommendations, the Victorian Government has announced its support for all the Taskforce recommendations and importantly, allocated funding for implementation.

An Animal-Free Science Advocacy representative is on a working group to implement the recommendations.

Vale Leo

Leo spent the first part of his life enduring invasive vision procedures, before being adopted by a loving family in Melbourne. Leo was a happy affectionate cat who enjoyed the company of his doting human companions for his 13 years of freedom post-release. A great testament to the ability of animals to forgive the past, when they are treated with kindness and compassion. Read Leo’s story here

The ethical case for rehoming all animals formerly in labs

Whilst the Right to Release campaign focuses on dogs and cats, a recent paper makes the ethical case that all healthy animals should be rehomed – no matter how small they are. 

We conclude that there are no good reasons to discriminate between rats, mice, chickens, dogs, cats, pigs, horses, fishes, frogs, snakes and non-human primates. Why put an effort into rehoming dogs and cats, while routinely killing redundant mice and rats? We should offer all redundant laboratory animals a longer life in good welfare, if possible (see also: []). The life of any healthy animal of a sentient species is worth the relatively small effort.

Van Loo PLP, Janssens MRE. Why All Healthy Laboratory Animals Should Be Rehomed, No Matter How Small. Animals (Basel). 2023 Aug 28;13(17):2727. doi: 10.3390/ani13172727. PMID: 37684991; PMCID: PMC10486491.

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