WHAT COULD HAPPEN TO YOUR LOST DOG OR CAT IN AN ONTARIO RESEARCH FACILITY?
As an animal lover in Ontario, you may never have asked yourself what life would be like for your dog or cat, if he or she somehow went missing and wound up being sold or surrendered to a lab.
You may not want to ask. The question itself is disturbing to most of us. However, if you ever got access to any inspection reports of Ontario research facilities and institutions that use stray dogs and cats for teaching or experiments, you would be even more disturbed by the answers.
Through FOI (Freedom of Information) requests in 2018, the Animal Alliance received a number of reports of inspections conducted by OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) in some of these facilities, covering the years 2013 to 2017. The names of the institutions are blacked out, along with the species of animals involved and specific descriptions of the types of experiments or procedures or studies for which these animals were used.
Reading Between the Lines
However, by literally reading between the lines of these reports, it’s possible to piece together some of what underlies the blacked-out statistics and redacted information. For instance, in the case of approximately 20 of the reports received through FOI requests, there are enough unredacted references to kennels, pet food—and occasionally, even the words “dogs” and “cats” — to make clear that these inspections were of facilities where dogs and/or cats were among animals used for various kinds of research.
Even heavily redacted as they are, these inspectors’ reports offer sharp criticism of how these animals are housed and handled, and they cite numerous violations of standard operating procedures. Almost all of the facilities reported on are taken to task for deficiencies in sanitation, inadequacy in design of housing, low standard of living conditions and lack of safety. And those are only the housekeeping issues.
Even more alarmingly, the inspectors make reference in their reports to the use of expired drugs—including anesthetics and pain-relievers—as well as injury to animals through faulty equipment and rundown facilities. There are also numerous instances of humans’ failure to protect dogs and cats in their care from other animals, who may be vicious or dangerously ill, as well as failure to provide adequate veterinary care or proper oversight.
In fact, the more closely you look at these reports, the worse it gets. Below are specifics of a few of the numerous examples of neglect, incompetence and outright abuse of dogs and cats cited by inspectors, over a four-year period in a number of Ontario research facilities.