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AnimalearnThe American Anti-Vivisection Society


Companion animals share our homes and are an important part of our lives and families. In fact, over 72 million dogs and 82 million cats reside in U.S. households6, and we spent over $41 billion on the needs of our companion animals in 2007, including food and veterinary care7. Nevertheless, a significant number of dogs and cats continue to be harmed or killed for use in research, testing, and education, even when there are effective and more humane methods available. Other than their fate, there is little difference between the beagle or tabby who shares our home and is part of our family and the beagle or tabby who is vivisected in a teaching laboratory. As such, the harm to companion animals in education raises ethical questions about the use of animals as “tools” for teaching, particularly when high quality, educationally effective, and ethically sourced alternatives are available.

Dogs and cats, as well as other animals, are afforded legal protections under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The AWA regulates the use of animals8 by dealers, exhibitors, transporters, and research facilities, and includes minimum standards for the care and treatment of animals used in education at the university and graduate level9. Since its inception, the AWA has been amended several times, and some of the intentions of the 1985 amendments aimed to decrease animal suffering by encouraging the use of alternatives10. To further this purpose, Congress provided that investigators who wish to use animals for research or teaching purposes must first consider alternatives to any procedure likely to produce pain or distress in an animal and eliminate the unnecessary duplication of experiments on animals11. If an investigator determines that adequate alternatives are not available, then a written narrative description of the “methods and sources” reviewed must be provided in the animal use protocol submitted to their institution’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)12.

Despite the intent of the AWA, companion animals and other animals continue to suffer unnecessarily to provide educational experiences for undergraduate, graduate, veterinary, and medical students at some colleges and universities. Recently, however, many colleges and universities have been moving towards offering students alternatives, due in large part to student advocacy efforts and the opportunities presented by advances in technology13.

In this report, Animalearn presents the most current, detailed information about the extent to which dogs and cats are used in higher education and the purposes for which they are used. The report focuses in particular on how these animals are obtained (through dealers, including biological supply companies, and pounds), and examines the reports of misconduct and animal mistreatment associated with these sources. Comprehensive resources for implementing the latest humane, educationally sound alternatives in higher education curricula are also provided. Animalearn also plans to release a case study to examine how well IACUCs are reviewing animal use protocols to minimize animal use and suffering.

6American Veterinary Medical Association. U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. 2007. AVMA. 22 Sep 2008
7American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. “Pet Pampering and Pet Health Insurance Drive Pet Industry Sales to Another All Time High.” 11 Feb. 2008. APPMA Press Release. 22 Sep 2008
8The AWA defines “animal” as “any live or dead dog, cat……….but such term excludes (1) birds, rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus, bred for use in research……….” 7 U.S.C. §32132(g).
9Animal Welfare Act. 7 U.S.C. § 2131; Research facilities are defined as “any school (except an elementary or secondary school), institution, organization, or person that uses or intends to use live animals in research, tests, or experiments and that (1) purchases or transports live animals in commerce, or (2) receives funds….” id. § 2132 (e).
10Animal Welfare Act. 131 Cong. Rec. 29,155 (1985).
11Animal Welfare Act. 7 U.S.C. § 2143 (a)(3)(B) and id. § 2131 (c) (3); Also see 9 C.F.R. § 2.31 (d)(1)(ii) and (d)(1)(iii).
12The AWA establishes the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) as a self-regulating entity that must be established by institutions that use animals for research or instructional purposes to oversee and evaluate all aspects of the institution’s animal care and use program. For more information see 9 C.F.R.§ 2.31.
13Mangan, Katherine. “Medical Schools Stop Using Dogs and Pigs in Teaching.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. 12 Oct. 2007: A12.
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