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Clarification on stray cats and dogs in experiments

Nic Dakin MP MP Nic Dakin has asked the Home Office for clarification about the potential use of stray animals in experiments, after new EU rules are introduced next year.


In Parliament yesterday (June 21) Mr Dakin, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments, asked the Secretary of State for the Home Office to confirm the Government's policy on the use of stray dogs and cats when the new Directive 2012/63/EU is implemented.


Here is Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone's reply as reported in Hansard, the Parliamentary record:


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.


Archived July 11