Friday, September 15, 2017

Science is eroding justification for dog experiments.

Each year tens of thousands of dogs are harmed in cruel experiments around the world. Many of these dogs will spend their entire lives inside laboratory walls never seeing the sky or feeling grass beneath their feet.  In addition to suffering from the denial of these most basic natural experiences, many will be dosed with toxic levels of chemicals or drugs after which, if they survive, they will be killed so that their bodies can be dissected and organs examined.

To compassionate minded people this is a distressing scenario, but one that has long been placated by the assumption that use of dogs in experiments is necessary and justified.  The prevailing dogma is that using dogs in experiments is beneficial to people because reactions of the dogs’ bodies are comparable to reactions in human bodies but, at the same time, the suffering the dogs experience is not comparable to human emotional states so it’s acceptable to use them.  

But science is increasing turning this argument on its head.

A major peer-reviewed scientific analysis carried out by Cruelty Free International and based on the largest database of animal toxicity studies “Analysis of the Use of Dogs in Predicting Human Toxicology and Drug Safety,” found that, “dogs are highly inconsistent predictors of toxic responses in humans.” 

Indeed, the study revealed that using dogs to predict drug toxicity in humans was about as accurate as flipping a coin.  In other words, the reaction of a dog’s body is not reliably comparable to the reactions of a human body.

That’s one assumption eroded.

But does it matter? After all, it’s just a dog. To imagine what a dog might be feeling when confined to a laboratory or subjected to an experiment is anthropomorphic. Right? 

Not according to science. A newly published paper, in the Journal of Medical Ethics, summarises new research that suggests that level of emotional intelligence displayed by dogs is comparable to that of a 2-3 year old human child.

The paper titled Advancesin neuroscience imply that harmful experiments on dogs are unethical authored by Dr Jarrod Bailey, Senior Research Scientist at Cruelty Free International, and Dr Shiranee Tettamanti Pereira, co-founder of People for Animals (Chennai), cites findings from recent, ethical, fMRI-based research involving companion dogs, to conclude that dogs experience positive emotions, empathic-like reactions and demonstrate human bonding.
In other words, dogs experience emotional states comparable to humans.

This further erodes justifications for the use of dogs in painful experiments. The level of suffering endured by dogs and questionable degree of human benefit is quickly gaining traction as a hot button issue in the debate about the use of animals in experiments and rallying call for change.
According to Dr. Jarrod Baily, “In recent years opposition to the use of dogs in experiments has been boosted by scientific evidence questioning the relevance of this research to humans, in addition to the greater availability and adoption of alternatives that can spare thousands of dogs from suffering in laboratories every year.”

Cruelty Free international is using recent scientific findings like these to encourage the pharmaceutical industry, government, global regulators and other stakeholders to engage fulling in constructive discussion and debate and to increase the search for more reliable testing methods not involving the use of animals.

They are also taking this information to the public were scientific proof that dogs experience emotions similar to humans comes as no surprise.  Surveys show that dogs are increasingly viewed as members of the family and for some equal in status to children.    It’s also not surprising that the idea of experimenting on dogs is deeply unpopular with the public. According to a 2017 Gallup poll the share of Americans who think that it’s unethical to do medical testing on animals is at an all-time high. [Forty-four percent of adults surveyed holding that medical testing on animals is “morally wrong” - up from 26 percent in 2001.] Moreover, public opinion studies also suggest that if the public were better informed about the low translation rate of findings from animal research to humans, public support for animal experiments would drop even further.

Science, public opinion, and advocacy are creating a perfect storm to finally end to the use of dogs in experiments. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Ending Cosmetic Testing on Animals is Good Business

It is often assumed that changing laws that regulate cosmetic industry practices translates in to negative impacts on business especially small and mid-sized companies. But when the changes sought align strongly with what consumers want and with regulatory trends around the world, businesses of all sizes can benefit. This is precisely the opportunity that ending cosmetics testing on animals now presents.  Read more on my Huffington Post Blog

Guatemala recently passed an animal welfare law that includes a prohibition on testing cosmetics on animals.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ending the Use of Dogs in Experiments

Dogs have long history of being exploited in cruel experiments under that banner of scientific advancement.  This week Cruelty Free International has launched a new campaign aimed at bringing the issue back into public awareness and ultimately ending the practice once and for all.  Read about the history of the use of dogs in experiments and the efforts to end it in my latest Huff Post blog