An experiment using six Labrador dogs for a medical trial on tooth implants in Sweden has prompted global outrage after it was revealed they are due to be killed next month.
As thousands of people, including celebrities like Ricky Gervais and Downton Abbey's Peter Egan, call for the dogs to be saved from their fate, we're asking if it is ever justified to experiment on them?
In 2017, there were 3.79 million procedures completed on living animals in Great Britain – the majority of these procedures involved mice, fish and rats. It is illegal to use an animal if there is an alternative non-animal method available, and the expected benefits accrued from the research must outweigh any potential animal suffering.
Professor Dominic Wells from the Royal Veterinary College says there is no choice but to use dogs for certain medical tests: ‘There are cases where the use of animals is unavoidable, especially if we want to step forward with biomedical work’.
Professor Wells is part of a project which breeds a colony of beagles for muscular dystrophy research.
However, Downton Abbey actor and animal rights campaigner Peter Egan, is against animal testing and says: ‘It’s amazing to think how much animal testing still goes on in the UK. In the modern world of science, it’s quite shocking, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s never OK to experiment on dogs’.
Doctor Andre Menache, a scientific consultant for the campaign group 'For Life On Earth', says testing on animals is scientifically meaningless: ‘Can a dog or a rat predict how a chemical or a drug will react in the human body? According to the British Medical Journal, and the US Food and Drug Administration, no animal can predict how a drug or a chemical will behave in the human body’.