‘World Day for Laboratory Animals,’ April 24, 2020, is a special time to renew our awareness of the immense suffering inflicted on our fellow beings, victims of procedures that can rightly be described as torture. What other word describes being purposefully burned, poisoned, injured, isolated, and intentionally distressed – all in the name of science?
A bitter truth that Animal Alliance has learned after almost three decades of studying information obtained through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, and Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests, is that researchers who use animals can get away with violating the already weak guidelines with no meaningful consequences. The claim that there is meaningful protection for animals in laboratories and real accountability for the organizations that exploit them is an illusion.
The system is set up to protect the researchers and their organizations, not the animal victims. Canada’s federal governments, regardless of which party has been in power, have been complicit in this state of affairs, seemingly happy to allow a myriad of abuses to take place, and even funding experiments that should be considered atrocities. They do this, they claim, to protect and advance human health. Yet, today, with more non-animal alternative methods available than ever before – some proving to be more effective than animal-models, not less – the stubborn insistence to continue to harm animals so egregiously can no longer be tolerated.
What You Can Do
So, in the days ahead, we are asking you to choose one or more of the following actions to help animals in laboratories. This work continues all year round.
Don’t worry if you cannot engage in all of the suggested actions. Choose the ones that work for you. We can all help by working as individuals and with others.
Be assured that we don’t need to choose between our love for members of our own human family and our care for animals. We can promote and protect human health without tormenting and torturing other living beings. Modern researchers are able to use human tissues and cells, computer simulations, autopsy studies and more for experimentation. These methods are often more accurate than testing on animals whose biology is vastly different from humans.
1. Buy Cruelty-Free products. And don’t buy from companies that still test on animals. We can find companies that do not test on animals using the Leaping Bunny shopping guide: https://www.leapingbunny.org/guide/brands
2. Learn what companies are still testing on animals and which are not by contacting the manufacturers. By contacting them we are letting them know that this is a policy that matters to us, potential customers. It’s possible we might not get a straight answer, as most corporations don’t want to state openly that they are testing on animals. Here is a clear question we can ask:
“Does your company test finished products on animals, anywhere in the world? And, does you company buy ingredients from companies that currently engage in animal testing, anywhere in the world?”
3. Don’t donate to medical charities that engage in animal testing. If we are not sure if the particular charity supports animal research, we can contact them to ask. By contacting them we let them know that we will not support animal testing. As long as animals are seen as disposable and socially acceptable to use there is less impetus to adopt non-animal alternative methods.
4. Contact Canada’s Minister of Health, and you own Member of Parliament (MP). Ask him/her to:
- Establish and enforce regulations for animal researchers that are binding and effective.
- Create a regulatory body to replace the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) This voluntary organization is the body that over-sees the use of animals in experimentation. It has proven to be ineffective and appears to be set up to protect researchers and their interests as opposed to protecting animals. A neutral over-sight body with real enforcement powers needs to be established.
- Support a publicly funded, federally legislated body that would explore non-animal alternatives in research and validate the use of ‘New Approach Methodologies’’ (NAM) in Canada. ‘New Approach Methodologies’ promote methods that companies can use to replace or reduce animal tests.
Work is already underway to develop and validate non-animal alternative methods of testing and experimentation right here in Canada. The University of Windsor, Ontario, has established the ‘Canadian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Methods’ (CCAAM,) and the ‘Canadian Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods’ (CaCVAM.)
To contact Canada’s Minister of Health, the Honourable Patty Hadju:
The Honourable Patty Hajdu,
Minister of Health
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
And find your own Member of Parliament (MP) using your postal code:
5. If we are alumni of universities, we can ask them if any of their departments conduct research on animals. If the answer is yes, let’s ask them to end the practice and to use non-animal alternative methods instead. Tell them that we will not donate or support them as long as they continue to engage in animal research. A letter to an alumnus magazine or local newspaper about our decision will also be helpful.
6. Oppose classroom dissections. Approach our local school boards to ask if they engage in dissections of animals. If they do, urge them to adopt the more modern computer models and simulators that are now available.
7. Inform others about the cruelty of animal research. Many well-meaning people are unaware of how poorly protected animals are when used for research and testing. And, many still believe that conducting experimentation on animals is the only way to support better health outcomes for humans. Share online sources about how much animals suffer in laboratories, as well as the alternative methods that are already available.
8. Arrange to donate your body, organs or tissues to science when you die. Approach universities to learn if they accept such donations. Arrange for your donation in advance, and make sure to discuss your intention with close family members so they will co-operate with the process at the time of your death. By providing human bodies, tissues and organs we can lessen the demand for animals to be killed for such use.
9. Donate to organizations like Animal Alliance of Canada that oppose animal testing. https://www.animalalliance.ca/donate/
We know we have a long road ahead before animals will be truly safe from being used in research and testing. But there is already so much progress. There is a vast amount of evidence for the effectiveness of the numerous non-animal alternative methodologies already developed.
We can also be grateful that there are forward-thinking, progressive scientists and researchers who are at the fore-front of a new age in experimentation. Progressive and inventive researchers around the world are working on behalf of all of humanity to promote the best health outcomes for us by moving away from less effective animal models.
We Canadians are fortunate to have one such researcher already doing this work, Dr. Charu Chandrasekera, Executive Director CAAM/CaCVAM is leading a team at Ontario’s University of Windsor.
We can support this work, and help Canada to take its place as a leader in development of non-animal alternative research methods by donating to CCAAM/CaCVAM. http://www.uwindsor.ca/ccaam/307/support-our-efforts