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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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The Ethics of Research on Companion Animals for the Benefit of Their Own Species

Jane Conole

A fundamental component of the ethics of animal use in science is justification on the basis of a cost–benefit analysis where the cost is to the animals and the benefit is to the same species, another species, the environment or human society. This analysis is the baseline from which research projects can be refined to increase the benefit and reduce the animal cost. Research on companion animal species to the benefit of that species provides some interesting aspects of cost–benefit analysis. These include: the interface between clinical research in animals and the practise of veterinary science; the greater acceptance of animal research that benefits that animal species; and the allied benefits of companion animal research to society, companion animal owners, animal drug and food industries, and so forth. In many cases, these allied benefits are integral to the availability of resources to conduct the work. However, benefit to the companion animal species involved remains an important and welcome aspect of the use of these species in science.