National Anti-vivisection Society

 

National Antivisection Society

Animals dying in British labs through errors in basic care.

Posted: 5 December 2018. Updated: 5 December 2018

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The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) is calling on the Home Office to urgently tackle the growing number of incidents involving researchers and their staff in British laboratories who fail to provide animals with their most basic needs, food and water, resulting in suffering and death. Such incidents have increased from 14% in 2014 to 20% last year, the disturbing findings revealed in the latest annual report of the Animals in Science Regulation Unit published this week.

In one incident, two mice from a group of ten were found dead in their cage, the other animals showing signs of dehydration. The records showed that twice daily checks of the water bottle did not identify there was insufficient water. In another incident, the licence holder failed to arrange adequate cover while on leave for 17 days and during which 48 mice were recovering from procedures that had been carried out on them. A number of mice died or were subsequently killed due to the “poor planning”.

Other disturbing incidences of non-compliance noted in the report include:

  • A monkey who died after becoming trapped in a restraint cage, staff failing to check the cage mechanism and that no animal was present before operating the handle.
  • 13,200 extra mice being bred than was allowed because the licence holder misunderstood the project licence.
  • A wild caught animal who was killed after they would not eat and no interventions were made when the animal became ill due to poor communication in the lab.
  • A rat who was killed at the end of a procedure using carbon dioxide to suffocate the animal, after which their neck was broken. Placed in the freezer, a member of staff found the animal still alive 40 minutes later.
  • 200 baby mice were decapitated over a period of 2 years by staff who did not have the authority to do so.
  • During transportation, two boxes containing mice fell out of the side door of a van onto a public highway. The mice escaped, with twelve animals recaptured killed due to their contact with the outside world while three were never found.

Last month, it was revealed that the number of animals used for research in British laboratories was nearly 50% higher than the number (3.7 million) reported when the annual statistics were published by the UK Government in July. The total number of animals used in research in 2017 was therefore 5.53 million. The additional 1.8 million animals were bred and subsequently killed because they were: only used for breeding, the “wrong” sex for the experiment, used just for tissues, or “necessary surplus resulting from the breeding of animals to ensure adequate supply”.

Given the secrecy surrounding animal research, the process of licensing tests, and the failure, the NAVS says, of the Home Office to acknowledge current scientific evidence on the validity of animal experiments and researchers to provide sufficient justification of their use, the organisation wants licence applications submitted by animal researchers to be made public before their experiments get the go-ahead.

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