New Laws Save Cats And Dogs In Medical Experiments From Euthanasia

Legislation has passed the Upper House this week that aims to prevent the death of animals undergoing medical experimentation in New South Wales.

According to advocates, animal testing is rife in Australia — with millions of animals being bred every year for the sole purpose of experimentation.

Common domestic pets like dogs and cats are subject to experimentation in Australia, with many being used for organ transplant experiments. One particularly controversial experiment saw hundreds of kittens intentionally rendered deaf during testing for a cochlear implant.

Euthanasia is a common fate for animals in New South Wales once their participation in these experiments is over, despite the fact that many remain healthy.

Over one thousand dogs and five hundred cats were experimented on in NSW in 2020, yet only seventy-five cats were re-homed following the conclusion of these trials. The rest were euthanised.

Member for the Animal Justice Party Emma Hurst is the author of the new bill which aims to prevent healthy animals from being euthanised at the conclusion of medical testing. Hurst told Junkee that the legislation will force those testing on dogs and cats to re-home healthy animals after testing, and will enforce greater transparency on euthanasia rates.

“The legality has always been very broad, people can experiment on animals in New South Wales as long as they have the approval of an animal ethics community,” Hurst told Junkee. “They were either kept and recycled through multiple research experiments, over and over again so that they’re basically recycled through research their entire life. Or they were killed, even when if they were healthy at the end of experimentation, rather than re-homed. So very few of these animals make it out of research facilities alive.”

“What my legislation does, is it simply means that cats and dogs used in medical experimentation, they can’t kill a healthy, re-homable animal at the end of experimentation simply because they don’t want to make efforts to re-home that animal.”

To convince the cross-bench, Hurst introduced senators to Buddy, an eight-year-old beagle that had spent his entire life being used for medical experiments. Described by Hurst as “a lovely dog”, Buddy’s faced a difficult transition out of experimentation.

“He didn’t know what a lead was, he didn’t know what a treat was, he didn’t know what stairs were. So there’s work that needs to be done to help these animals adjust into a loving home.”

Senator Emma Hurst (right) with Buddy, an eight-year-old beagle that has spent her entire life in medical experiments.

Hurst says that the RSPCA has also expressed interest in developing formal pathways for animals being released from experimentation, to help them adjust prior to the adoption process.

The bill passed the Upper House with the full support of the crossbench this week, Hurst is hopeful that the bill will be debated in the Lower House when Parliament sits in August.

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