The UK Home Office has today released its annual statistics of scientific procedures on living animal in Great Britain during 2015.
Data collected on animal use changed from 2014 onwards, with European Union Directive 2010/63/EU setting out a common format for all member states. Key changes include reporting of the actual severity of procedures experienced by animals, differences in the categorisation of research, and the source of animals is now reported as place of birth. The Home Office note that data collected in 2015 are more likely to be robust than those collected in 2014.
For all species, 4,142,631 were conducted on 4,069,349 in 2015, which shows a modest increase from 2014 (3,867,439 procedures in 3,800,000 animals).
A total of 3,405 dogs were used in 4,643 procedures in 2015, which shows an increase over the 2,742 dogs reported as being used in 4,107 procedures in 2014. However, the apparent drop in dog use reported for 2014 may have been a result of the new data collection format, with numbers for 2013 being more comparable with 2015 (3,554 dogs). See our graph below to see how Great Britain’s dog use compares to other countries.
Dogs used in scientific research within the UK must be obtained from a designated supplier. Data for 2015 show that most dogs were bred at designated establishments within the UK or other member states. However, 1,012 beagle dogs were obtained from breeders in non-EU countries. This represents a considerable increased from the 640 dogs reported as being bred in non-EU countries in 2014.
One of the most significant changes which has occurred in data collection since the implementation is the reporting of actual severity caused by regulated procedures. Regulated procedures are defined by the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act (1986, updated 2012) as being those with the potential to cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm. The retrospective severity assessment is conducted following the completion of procedures and assessed the actual severity experienced by each animal. Severity is reported in the following categories: sub-threshold, non-recovery, mild, moderate and severe.
The data for 2015 show that the majority of dogs experienced mild severity procedures. The break down in as follows: sub-threshold (14), non-recovery (49), mild (3,097), moderate (1,480) and severe (3). Only three dogs experienced severe procedures, a decrease from 13 in 2014.
The predominant use of dogs in scientific research in the UK is to meet regulatory requirements for new chemical substances, such as medicines and pesticides. The data for 2015 demonstrate that this is still the case, with 3,085 of the total 3,405 procedures (90.6%) being conducted for regulatory purposes. Of these procedures, 2,454 were for repeated dose toxicity.
The full report can be found on the Home Office’s Animal Research and Testing portal.
More information on the use of dogs in scientific research can be found on our website.