Animals Used in Research


The Numbers of Animals Used
Though the scientific value and ethics of animal research are increasingly being questioned, it is estimated that over 13 million animals are still being used in a wide variety of research projects every year in the United States. Purpose-bred birds, rats, and mice, as well as fish and other cold-blooded animals, make up the vast majority of the animals used in research (over 90 percent), yet are specifically excluded from the Animal Welfare Act. As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not keep records of the use of these animals, nor is there any legal requirement to afford these animals even the minimal standards of care provided by the Animal Welfare Act.

2012 USDA Annual Report of Animal Usage provides the numbers of animals used in research, grouped by state, species, and overall totals.pdf Download the table While the exact number of animals used is unknown, the USDA does report that over one million covered animals (e.g., dogs, cats, non-human primates, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, and farmed animals used for biomedical research) are experimented on in U.S. laboratories each year. This figure is down significantly from all-time highs of over two million animals in 1985 and 1992, but this is likely due to the increased use of genetically engineered mice and rats, who are not covered.

Pain and Distress
The USDA breaks down the number of animals used by the category of pain and distress they experience during experiments. No Pain, No Drugs (Category C) means that the animals experienced no or only momentary pain and distress. With Pain, With Drugs (Category D) means that the animals were used in experiments that did cause significant pain and distress, but received medication to relieve or treat the pain. With Pain, No Drugs (Category E) means that animals experienced unalleviated pain and distress as part of the experiment. Over 97,000 animals, 8.5 percent of the total, experienced unalleviated pain and distress in 2010.

Animals used in research by catagory of pain and distress

Sources of animals
There is an entire industry built around supplying animals for research. Class B dealers buy and sell animals solely for research purposes. These dealers obtain animals from auctions, through pound seizure (purchasing animals from pounds or shelters so that they can be used in research), from "free to good home" ads, and through other means that are sometimes questionable. Animals obtained from such "random sources," who were once members of a family, often suffer from abuse and neglect when placed in dealer facilities devoid of attention and enrichment.

Class A dealers purposely breed animals for use in experimentation. Animals bred in this type of environment are the epitome of animals "manufactured" as research tools, given little acknowledgement as thinking, feeling beings and instead considered tools of study.

The procurement of animals for biomedical research and scientific study is not only the beginning of the suffering that will continue into the laboratory, but also a representation of the indifference towards animal life felt by those who are a part of the animal research industry.

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Information on Other Animals Used in Research

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