Thousands of pet dogs and cats taken by researchers every year
Every year in Canada thousands of pet dogs and cats are purchased by research facilities for experimental purposes. They are subjected to a life of pain and suffering and eventually killed.
The Canadian Council on Animal Care governs only those research facilities that have agreed voluntarily to be certified. The statistics collected from those institutions show that 8,207 pet dogs and 8,640 pet cats were sent to research laboratories across Canada in 2016. Of the total number of pets sent to research in Canada, 2328 dogs (28%) and 2675 cats (31%) were from Ontario.
Ontario is the only province that legislates the acquisition of pet dogs and cats for research. According to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), between 2012 and 2016, 12,104 pet dogs and 11,575 pet cats were sent to research laboratories in Ontario.
The Ontario Animals For Research Act governs how pet dogs and cats are acquired by research facilities in Ontario, the only province in Canada where the practice is mandated.
Appendix D of OMAFRA’s document titled Instructions for reporting the numbers of animals used for research in 2017, provides a broad interpretation of how animals can be acquired under the Act. (click here for Appendix D)
Pound sourced animals refers to dogs and cats obtained from Ontario pounds pursuant to a municipal by-law and “used for research purposes”. The Ministry has expanded the pound definition to include humane societies that are contracted to run municipal pounds and rescue groups that take animals from pounds after the redemption period.
Another source of pet dogs and cats are those “donated by owner”. Some of these animals are brought in by their owners for test procedures at research facilities and remain in the care of their owners.
However, the Ministry has expanded “donated by owner” to include animals who are surrendered to humane societies or pet dogs and cats who are picked up by some unknown entity in communities without municipal by-laws governing stray dogs and cats. Interestingly, the number of pet dogs and cats sourced from this category has risen sharply from 326 in 2012 to 1,997 in 2013 and has remained high ever since – 1,279 in 2014, 2,322 in 2015 and 1,686 in 2016.
An additional source of pet dogs and cats is covered under the category “miscellaneous” which refers to the acquisition of dogs and cats from pet stores or breeders and requires permission of the Director under the Act.
Finally, Research Facility Source includes pet dogs and cats that were purchased by the research institution in one year and were retained by the facility in the next year or were obtained from another research facility in Ontario. It also includes dogs and cats born and used for research purposes in research facilities.
It is little wonder that Ontario residents who lose their beloved pets do not know how to begin to find them when they can be sold to a research facility anywhere in Ontario.
Laurie Bishop, who lost Royal to research, could not find out what happened to her dog by asking her pound keeper or OMAFRA. She approached Animal Alliance for help.
The story of Royal is a disturbing example of what could happen to companion animals. Royal was a much loved, elderly dog who lived his entire life with his human companion, Laurie Bishop. One sad day, Royal wandered off his property. Someone found him and took him to the local pound, thinking this friendly dog would be safe and even expressed an interest in adopting him. Instead, the pound sold him to a research facility.
Ontario is one of the largest users of dogs and cats for research purposes. Please help us amend the Animals for Research Act to ban the use of lost pets from Ontario municipal pounds and shelters from animal experimentation and to ban the import of pet dogs and cats for experimentation from outside Ontario.
How You Can Help
The foundation of a winning campaign is sound planning and preparation, starting with budgeting. Please take the time to consider becoming a donor.
Educate yourself and protect your pets
i) Make sure that your pets wear identification and that their microchip information is current.
ii) Know where lost pets are sheltered in your community and how long you have to reclaim them before they are put up for adoption, sold to research or euthanized.
Contact the Premier and speak out!
We need to encourage the Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, to introduce legislation banning the use of lost pets in research. Please mail and call him. Hand-written letters are best but you can also use our form below.
Honourable Doug Ford
Premier of Ontario
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1