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TEST DRUGS ON PETS SAYS EUROPEAN UNION
Sunday, 19th June
The Brussels directive could trigger a dramatic rise in the number of cats, dogs and horses used in laboratory experiments.
The plan would remove the special protection domestic animals currently have and could even allow pets deemed strays to be used for the first time.
At the moment British law means only animals bred for research can be used in tests.
The European Commission, which has given the Government until 2013 to adopt the legislation, would also guarantee the right of puppy farms and cat breeders in the UK to supply animals to research laboratories abroad.
Ministers are concerned that large chunks of the directive would weaken Britain’s tough animal welfare laws. Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone has launched a three-month consultation exercise.
As part of the consultation, the Home Office asks: “Is loss of special protection likely to lead to increased use of cats, dogs and equids (horses and donkeys)? Should the UK retain its current special protection for dogs, cats and equids?”
Under UK law, animal testing centres such as controversial Huntingdon Life Sciences must seek special permission to use cats, dogs and horses.
Latest Home Office figures show that in 2009, 172 cats, 4,129 dogs and 199 horses were used for research. But in countries where there is no special protection, the numbers are far higher.
In 2008 France conducted tests on 1,848 cats and 652 horses while in Holland 2,562 horses were used and Germany tested the most dogs – 4,450. Scientific papers studied by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV) show that cats have been used at Cardiff University for experiments. Nineteen kittens had their windpipes sliced under anaesthesia while catheters were inserted in their blood vessels and parts of their brains were exposed to electrodes, the group found.