Dogs

How dogs have been used in NZ

Dogs have been used in research, testing and teaching in a variety of ways - from non-harmful to cruel and invasive methods. The majority of dogs used for research, testing and teaching purposes are used for teaching and veterinary research. They are also used in environmental management, medical research, testing and more.

Dogs in NZ have been used to:

  • Test insecticides, pesticides and other toxins.
  • Try and model human disease and other human conditions. 
  • Measure the safety of food and ingredients. 
  • Test what pain relief is most effective. 
  • Research disease detection.
  • Research nutrition, how it affects biological functions and food preference.
  • Test the effectiveness of new, possible treatments for skin infections.
  • Research performance, nutrition and underlying causes of disease in working dogs. These animals are seen as a vital part of the animal agriculture sector (in 2009 there were 150,000 working dogs in NZ).
  • Research fitness and training regimes in police dogs. Police dogs have also been used to train dog handlers. 
  • Teach vet and vet nurse students basic concepts like animal handling and basic clinical/husbandry skills. Dog cadavers are also used to teach vet students and some dogs already scheduled to be euthanised by council pounds, are euthanised by vet and vet nurse students as part of their training.

Dogs are also considered to be used for research, testing or teaching when blood samples are taken during routine vet checks are used for research purposes.  

Due to the high level of secrecy that this industry has, this is not a comprehensive list. For more details and referenced examples of how dogs are used, see the case studies section at the bottom of this page.

Research on dogs in the news

Pound dogs used in 1080 experiment

Ten unwanted dogs sourced from a Christchurch pound were subjected to six consecutive days of experimental poisoning before being killed. Read more here

Puppies' brains injected in cruel test

A research experiment approved by an NZ University involved Huntaway puppies having repeated injections made into their brains. Read more here

Overview 

The figures in the table below have been provided by MPI. 

How dogs were used for science in NZ:

Purpose 2018 2019 2020
Basic biological research 420 111 41
Veterinary research 1,742 295 299
Teaching 431 496 317
Animal husbandry research 0 0 0
Medical research 1 0 4
Testing 16 35 100
Environmental management 12 0 0
Species conservation 0 0 0
Production of biological agents 0 0 0
Development of alternatives 0 0 0
Producing offspring with compromised welfare 0 0 0
Other 2 19 0
Total number used 2,624 956 761
Animals killed 9 2 1
Animals killed that were bred but not used  NA 0 0
Total number including those bred and killed but weren't used 2,624 956 761

The figures in the table above were provided by MPI. 

Where dogs have been used

Dogs are used for research, testing and teaching purposes by private companies, universities, and polytechnics. Find out more.

Where dogs have been sourced from

Dogs used in science are sourced from breeding facilities, farms, city council pounds and other public sources. According to the Ministry for Primary Industries, public sources include public donations, animals obtained from a pound, a pet shop or other public sources. This includes companion animals who are used for the duration of the exercise (e.g. veterinary nurse training). Find out more.

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Further reading


Summary: Dogs were tested for their pain threshold by having a disk the size of a coin placed onto one of their forelegs. This disc could be heated up remotely. Several tests with 10-minute breaks in-between were performed, where the disk temperature was raised until the dog showed signs of pain. Almost half the dogs showed burn marks after testing.


Procedure: For the tests, one foreleg of each dog was shaven, and a velcro strap with a heating element and a coin-sized copper disk was fixed to it. The control unit was put into a shoulder harness on the dog. Remotely, the temperature of the copper disk was raised (up to 60°C) until the dog showed signs of pain.
In the first experiment, three tests with 10-min breaks in-between were done in one weekly session for four weeks. They permanently lived at the conducting university and had been used prior.
In a second experiment, three different dog breeds (10 dogs per breed, including ten of those mentioned above) were tested. Six tests with 10-min breaks in-between were done on each dog, one day per week for four weeks. Ten privately-owned dogs were taken over 40km to the university on their respective testing days.
On average, they showed pain around 50°C. Seven huntaways, two greyhounds and four harriers showed burn marks after testing. Several dogs responded with fear to the electric shaver.

Purpose: To test a remote device causing thermal pain through heat. Currently, pain threshold measurements often require the animal to be restrained and a human to be close by, influencing results. After testing the device, three different breeds were tested for their pain threshold to compare them.

Source: Master’s thesis

Year published: 2016

Read more..

Summary: Dogs were tested for their pain threshold by having a disk the size of a coin placed onto one of their forelegs. This disc could be heated up remotely. Several tests with 10-minute breaks in-between were performed, where the disk temperature was raised until the dog showed signs of pain. Almost half the dogs showed burn marks after testing.


Procedure: For the tests, one foreleg of each dog was shaven, and a velcro strap with a heating element and a coin-sized copper disk was fixed to it. The control unit was put into a shoulder harness on the dog. Remotely, the temperature of the copper disk was raised (up to 60°C) until the dog showed signs of pain.
In the first experiment, three tests with 10-min breaks in-between were done in one weekly session for four weeks. They permanently lived at the conducting university and had been used prior.
In a second experiment, three different dog breeds (10 dogs per breed, including ten of those mentioned above) were tested. Six tests with 10-min breaks in-between were done on each dog, one day per week for four weeks. Ten privately-owned dogs were taken over 40km to the university on their respective testing days.
On average, they showed pain around 50°C. Seven huntaways, two greyhounds and four harriers showed burn marks after testing. Several dogs responded with fear to the electric shaver.

Purpose: To test a remote device causing thermal pain through heat. Currently, pain threshold measurements often require the animal to be restrained and a human to be close by, influencing results. After testing the device, three different breeds were tested for their pain threshold to compare them.

Source: Master’s thesis

Year published: 2016

Summary: Pound dogs were fed poison in different concentrations and different bait. More than half died within 4 hours.


Procedure: All but two of the dogs were fed the test poison (PAPP) in different concentrations and with different bait (chicken, dog roll, PAPP pellets or paste). Two dogs were fed a capsule containing cyanide. All dogs were then observed for signs of toxicosis. Ten of the animals receiving PAPP died within 3.5 hours, and one more after 4 hours. The two dogs receiving cyanide died within 14min and 30min. The rest of the animals showed symptoms but survived the toxin; their ultimate fate was not stated. All but five animals vomited. Of 21 animals, 14 died of the poison within 4 hours.

Purpose: To test a micro-encapsulated formulation of Para-aminopropiophenone (PAPP) for poisoning wild dogs humanely and quickly. As wild predators like dogs, cats and stoats are a severe threat to kiwi birds, researchers look for ways to target them. Cyanide is also tested to see if it has potential.

Source: unpublished report via OIA-request

Year conducted: 2006

Read more..

Summary: Pound dogs were fed poison in different concentrations and different bait. More than half died within 4 hours.


Procedure: All but two of the dogs were fed the test poison (PAPP) in different concentrations and with different bait (chicken, dog roll, PAPP pellets or paste). Two dogs were fed a capsule containing cyanide. All dogs were then observed for signs of toxicosis. Ten of the animals receiving PAPP died within 3.5 hours, and one more after 4 hours. The two dogs receiving cyanide died within 14min and 30min. The rest of the animals showed symptoms but survived the toxin; their ultimate fate was not stated. All but five animals vomited. Of 21 animals, 14 died of the poison within 4 hours.

Purpose: To test a micro-encapsulated formulation of Para-aminopropiophenone (PAPP) for poisoning wild dogs humanely and quickly. As wild predators like dogs, cats and stoats are a severe threat to kiwi birds, researchers look for ways to target them. Cyanide is also tested to see if it has potential.

Source: unpublished report via OIA-request

Year conducted: 2006

Summary: Police dogs are fitted with a catheter for a whole week and get infused with a marker solution. They are fitted with an activity measuring collar and regularly have blood sampled.


Procedure: Recruited dogs are weighed and fitted with a catheter to the foreleg vein. A solution containing markers is injected. Blood samples are taken at different intervals for one week to measure the marker level in their blood (to then calculate their energy use). Water is withheld for 4 hours between catheter placement and the first test blood sample. Dogs are also fitted with an activity and GPS collar to record activity and distance travelled.

Purpose: To create a physical fitness test and the best training regime for different “types” of police dogs. There is (at the time) no standardised fitness test. A test like that should help to distinguish between lack of fitness and disease.

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2016

Read more..

Summary: Police dogs are fitted with a catheter for a whole week and get infused with a marker solution. They are fitted with an activity measuring collar and regularly have blood sampled.


Procedure: Recruited dogs are weighed and fitted with a catheter to the foreleg vein. A solution containing markers is injected. Blood samples are taken at different intervals for one week to measure the marker level in their blood (to then calculate their energy use). Water is withheld for 4 hours between catheter placement and the first test blood sample. Dogs are also fitted with an activity and GPS collar to record activity and distance travelled.

Purpose: To create a physical fitness test and the best training regime for different “types” of police dogs. There is (at the time) no standardised fitness test. A test like that should help to distinguish between lack of fitness and disease.

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2016

Summary: Dogs undergoing castration were treated with different pain relief and their pain response was measured. During surgery, EEG was measured to see differences in response to the process. After surgery, the pain level was determined through a behavioural assessment several times.


Procedure: Dogs brought in by their owners for castration were given either morphine or tramadol as pain medication before surgery. All dogs were given a sedative before anaesthesia. During anaesthesia, three EEG electrodes were placed under the skin of the head. EEG was recorded around the time of the most painful surgery parts. Dogs were assessed using a pain scale (CMPS-SF) for 9 hours post-operation. Three dogs vomited after medication with morphine.

Purpose: To compare the effects of tramadol with morphine on pain in dogs after castration. Morphine has side effects, so an alternative that equally blocks the pain reception during and after surgery without side effects is tested.

Source: Journal article

Year published: 2013

Read more..

Summary: Dogs undergoing castration were treated with different pain relief and their pain response was measured. During surgery, EEG was measured to see differences in response to the process. After surgery, the pain level was determined through a behavioural assessment several times.


Procedure: Dogs brought in by their owners for castration were given either morphine or tramadol as pain medication before surgery. All dogs were given a sedative before anaesthesia. During anaesthesia, three EEG electrodes were placed under the skin of the head. EEG was recorded around the time of the most painful surgery parts. Dogs were assessed using a pain scale (CMPS-SF) for 9 hours post-operation. Three dogs vomited after medication with morphine.

Purpose: To compare the effects of tramadol with morphine on pain in dogs after castration. Morphine has side effects, so an alternative that equally blocks the pain reception during and after surgery without side effects is tested.

Source: Journal article

Year published: 2013

Summary: Students are taught anatomy, physiology, animal handling and basic clinical/husbandry skills. Dogs are part of the training in anaesthesia classes.


Procedure: The application is based on a previously approved one from 2014, with modifications due to curriculum and changes in teaching methods to increase the use of simulations, videos, demonstrations and mannequins. Dogs are used in practical anaesthetic classes. If animals need to be killed, a captive bolt pistol followed by cutting their throat is used for large animals and an anaesthetic overdose for companion and small farm animals.

Purpose: To train students studying BVSc, BVetTech and Equine studies in animals handling, anatomy, clinical examination and clinical procedures. 

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2018

Read more..

Summary: Students are taught anatomy, physiology, animal handling and basic clinical/husbandry skills. Dogs are part of the training in anaesthesia classes.


Procedure: The application is based on a previously approved one from 2014, with modifications due to curriculum and changes in teaching methods to increase the use of simulations, videos, demonstrations and mannequins. Dogs are used in practical anaesthetic classes. If animals need to be killed, a captive bolt pistol followed by cutting their throat is used for large animals and an anaesthetic overdose for companion and small farm animals.

Purpose: To train students studying BVSc, BVetTech and Equine studies in animals handling, anatomy, clinical examination and clinical procedures. 

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2018

Summary: The 2-day course consists of training on mannequins, placement of an IV catheter in the handler's dogs (dogs will be lightly sedated), a live demo and practical exercises on anaesthetised sheep that will be killed afterwards.


Procedure: In a first aid curse for dog handlers, they practise control of bleeding and a sucking chest injury. The course consists of:

Day 1 - Didactic teaching, handler training on mannequins and placement of an IV catheter in the handler's dogs (the dogs will be lightly sedated to make this easier).

Day 2 - Live demo and then practise on an anaesthetised sheep: open chest injury, femoral artery wound (the sheep are covered in a different AEC application). 

Purpose: To teach first aid for dogs to handlers of NZ Police and Defence Force. Working dogs can be injured during operations.

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2017

Read more..

Summary: The 2-day course consists of training on mannequins, placement of an IV catheter in the handler's dogs (dogs will be lightly sedated), a live demo and practical exercises on anaesthetised sheep that will be killed afterwards.


Procedure: In a first aid curse for dog handlers, they practise control of bleeding and a sucking chest injury. The course consists of:

Day 1 - Didactic teaching, handler training on mannequins and placement of an IV catheter in the handler's dogs (the dogs will be lightly sedated to make this easier).

Day 2 - Live demo and then practise on an anaesthetised sheep: open chest injury, femoral artery wound (the sheep are covered in a different AEC application). 

Purpose: To teach first aid for dogs to handlers of NZ Police and Defence Force. Working dogs can be injured during operations.

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2017

Summary: Dogs will be fed three different ways for one week each. A high carb diet twice a day, a high carb diet every two days, and a high fat, low carb diet every two days. Each dog will have 12 blood samples taken throughout the study.


Procedure: Dogs will be assigned three different feeding plans for one week in random order. After a week of adaptation to a high carb, low fat commercial diet twice a day, dogs will receive:
a) the high carb low fat diet twice a day;
b) the high carb low fat diet once in 48 hours;
c) a high fat low carb diet once in 48 hours.
The feeding plan will be kept for seven days, with 4 blood samples taken. The procedure of 1-week adaptation with two feeds a day followed by the experimental feeding regime will be repeated two more times, so each dog will go through all three plans.

Purpose:
To see if fasting in between meals is beneficial for healthy dogs. The findings could be used to optimise the diet of hospitalised dogs (or otherwise ill patients). Patients’ diets are a tricky balance of ensuring optimal nutrition and avoiding overfeeding. Both are important for the recovery of human and veterinary patients.

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2016

Read more..

Summary: Dogs will be fed three different ways for one week each. A high carb diet twice a day, a high carb diet every two days, and a high fat, low carb diet every two days. Each dog will have 12 blood samples taken throughout the study.


Procedure: Dogs will be assigned three different feeding plans for one week in random order. After a week of adaptation to a high carb, low fat commercial diet twice a day, dogs will receive:
a) the high carb low fat diet twice a day;
b) the high carb low fat diet once in 48 hours;
c) a high fat low carb diet once in 48 hours.
The feeding plan will be kept for seven days, with 4 blood samples taken. The procedure of 1-week adaptation with two feeds a day followed by the experimental feeding regime will be repeated two more times, so each dog will go through all three plans.

Purpose:
To see if fasting in between meals is beneficial for healthy dogs. The findings could be used to optimise the diet of hospitalised dogs (or otherwise ill patients). Patients’ diets are a tricky balance of ensuring optimal nutrition and avoiding overfeeding. Both are important for the recovery of human and veterinary patients.

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2016

Summary: Dogs are fed three different diets (either high fat, high carb, or high protein) over 28 days once a day. The dogs are offered each of the three diets at once and in high quantities. Regular stool samples are taken. Blood samples are taken from dogs that have been fasted (18 hours with no food).


Procedure: Dogs are offered three different diets at once over 28 days. Each diet is either high fat, high carb, or high protein. The dogs are fed once a day at libitum (meaning as much as they like). Stool samples are taken regularly. If dogs don't poo naturally, a lubricated glove is used. Blood samples are taken on the same days after dogs have fasted (18 hours with no food) from either a neck or a leg vein. Should they gain weight, their food will be rationed after the study.

Purpose: To follow-up on previous findings and see if they can be repeated over a longer time. There, dogs preferred fat and protein over carbs and didn't care about the source). Additionally, they want to see if the microbes in the digestion system are changing with the type of food.

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2016

Read more..

Summary: Dogs are fed three different diets (either high fat, high carb, or high protein) over 28 days once a day. The dogs are offered each of the three diets at once and in high quantities. Regular stool samples are taken. Blood samples are taken from dogs that have been fasted (18 hours with no food).


Procedure: Dogs are offered three different diets at once over 28 days. Each diet is either high fat, high carb, or high protein. The dogs are fed once a day at libitum (meaning as much as they like). Stool samples are taken regularly. If dogs don't poo naturally, a lubricated glove is used. Blood samples are taken on the same days after dogs have fasted (18 hours with no food) from either a neck or a leg vein. Should they gain weight, their food will be rationed after the study.

Purpose: To follow-up on previous findings and see if they can be repeated over a longer time. There, dogs preferred fat and protein over carbs and didn't care about the source). Additionally, they want to see if the microbes in the digestion system are changing with the type of food.

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2016

Summary: Dogs scheduled to have ovaries and uterus removed at a teaching clinic are used. Premedication, including morphine, is given 45min before the surgery. Dogs are fasted for 12 hours and water is withheld for about 1 hour before surgery. Blood samples are taken regularly for 4 hours.


Procedure: A sedative and morphine are given 45min before anaesthetic induction for surgery. A catheter is placed in a leg vein for regular blood collection over 3 hours after morphine injection. After surgery, dogs are monitored for 2 hours. Water is withheld from first medication until after recovery from anaesthesia. They are fasted from 12 hours before anaesthesia until after recovery.

Purpose: To determine morphine effects on pain in dogs after surgery and how it behaves in their bodies. It is known that morphine injections last only about an hour, but not precisely why and how much morphine in the blood provides adequate pain relief.

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2016

Read more..

Summary: Dogs scheduled to have ovaries and uterus removed at a teaching clinic are used. Premedication, including morphine, is given 45min before the surgery. Dogs are fasted for 12 hours and water is withheld for about 1 hour before surgery. Blood samples are taken regularly for 4 hours.


Procedure: A sedative and morphine are given 45min before anaesthetic induction for surgery. A catheter is placed in a leg vein for regular blood collection over 3 hours after morphine injection. After surgery, dogs are monitored for 2 hours. Water is withheld from first medication until after recovery from anaesthesia. They are fasted from 12 hours before anaesthesia until after recovery.

Purpose: To determine morphine effects on pain in dogs after surgery and how it behaves in their bodies. It is known that morphine injections last only about an hour, but not precisely why and how much morphine in the blood provides adequate pain relief.

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2016

Summary: Dogs working on farms are fed either a premium diet or a standard "home-kill plus tux" diet. All dogs have a collar to measure activity. Body weight, condition, and blood samples are recorded regularly for a year.


Procedure: Adult healthy dogs from sheep and beef farms are selected. They are fed either a premium diet or their standard homekill+Tux diet. Dogs are fitted with activity measuring collars and owners fill out monthly questionnaires. Additionally, dogs will be examined regularly and blood samples are taken every two months. From the 164 dogs in the study, 20 are picked for more blood samples and skeletal measurements at a vet clinic.

Purpose: To see the effects of nutrition on working dogs in a field situation, specifically red blood cells and body condition. This study is building upon work done on sled dogs and greyhounds. The athletic demand on working dogs is diverse. They are prone to diet-related diseases because their feeding is more directed by convenience than health.

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2016

Read more..

Summary: Dogs working on farms are fed either a premium diet or a standard "home-kill plus tux" diet. All dogs have a collar to measure activity. Body weight, condition, and blood samples are recorded regularly for a year.


Procedure: Adult healthy dogs from sheep and beef farms are selected. They are fed either a premium diet or their standard homekill+Tux diet. Dogs are fitted with activity measuring collars and owners fill out monthly questionnaires. Additionally, dogs will be examined regularly and blood samples are taken every two months. From the 164 dogs in the study, 20 are picked for more blood samples and skeletal measurements at a vet clinic.

Purpose: To see the effects of nutrition on working dogs in a field situation, specifically red blood cells and body condition. This study is building upon work done on sled dogs and greyhounds. The athletic demand on working dogs is diverse. They are prone to diet-related diseases because their feeding is more directed by convenience than health.

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2016

READ MORE