Animal Experiments

Home Department written question – answered on 21st June 2012.

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Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what her policy is on the use of stray dogs and cats in animal experiments through the transposition of the EU Directive on animal experimentation.

Photo of Lynne Featherstone Lynne Featherstone The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The UK does not allow the use of stray dogs and cats in animal experiments. The EU Directive also states that stray animals should not be used. We do not envisage any circumstances under which the use of stray animals will be justified in the future.

European Directive 2010/63/EU on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes is to be implemented in the United Kingdom and other member states from 1 January 2013.

Article 10 requires that dogs and cats may only be used in procedures if they have been purpose bred. Any exception to this requirement must be justified on scientific grounds. Article 11 prohibits the use of stray and feral animals of domestic species except in essential studies relating to the health and welfare of the animals, or serious threats to the environment or to human or animal health. Where such an exception is to be granted, there must be a scientific justification that the purpose of the procedure can be achieved only by the use of a stray or feral animal.

We propose to implement the requirements of Articles 10 and 11 by means of the standard conditions to be applied to project licences.

Currently, section 10(3) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 provides similar prohibitions through its requirement for the conditions of a project licence to include a condition to the effect that dogs and cats must be purpose bred and prohibiting the use of wild animals. Section 10(3) also provides for exceptions to these prohibitions, where justified.

As current UK requirements are not stricter than those of the new directive in this regard, it is not possible to place an absolute prohibition of the use of stray dogs and cats on the face of revised UK legislation using Article 2 to the directive. Nevertheless, under the 1986 Act, exceptions relating to the use of feral animals have been extremely rare and no use of stray animals has been authorised. We do not envisage any circumstances under which the use of stray animals will be justified in the future and I therefore propose, as a matter of policy, to continue this effective prohibition on the use of stray animals under revised UK legislation transposing the new directive.

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