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 check 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 annually
Purpose 2016 2017 2018 2019
Basic biological research 0 128 420 111
Veterinary research 506 255 1,742 295
Teaching 674 469 431 496
Animal husbandry research 0 0 0 0
Medical research 98 12 1 0
Testing 19 24 16 35
Environmental management 7 0 12 0
Species conservation 0 0 0 0
Production of biological agents 0 0 0 0
Development of alternatives 0 0 0 0
Producing offspring with compromised welfare NA NA 0 0
Other 0 0 2 19
Total number used 1,304 888 2,624 956
Animals killed 95 20 9 2
Animals killed that were bred but not used  NA NA NA 0
Total number including those bred and killed but weren't used 1,304 888 2,624 956

 

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.

Take action!

  • Demand that action be taken to prevent cruel experiments from happening in the future by signing our petition! Together we can push for stronger laws, better transparency and upgrading our science by Striking at the Source!
  • This is an ongoing, longterm campaign so if you feel strongly about demanding transparency and openness, please consider making a monthly donation
  • Learn about the many other ways that you can help end animal experimentation.

Further reading


Case Studies

Here you can view real-life examples of how dogs have been used for research, testing and teaching purposes in NZ. More publications will be added as we find them!

Keywords: Pain relief, electrical stimulus.

Aim: To examine the dose-effect relationship of pain relief drugs in dogs after a pilot study was conducted on rats. 

Overview: Brain electroencephalographic responses to electrical stimulation were recorded to assess the efficacy of centrally acting pain relief drugs. Dogs were anaesthetised and then test drugs were injected. Blood samples were taken and the brain electroencephalography response was recorded. This involved the placement of three stainless steel needle electrodes in specific sites close to the brain of the dogs and another electrical stimulus being applied to the hind limb of the dogs. 

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2017

Read more..

Aim: To examine the dose-effect relationship of pain relief drugs in dogs after a pilot study was conducted on rats. 

Overview: Brain electroencephalographic responses to electrical stimulation were recorded to assess the efficacy of centrally acting pain relief drugs. Dogs were anaesthetised and then test drugs were injected. Blood samples were taken and the brain electroencephalography response was recorded. This involved the placement of three stainless steel needle electrodes in specific sites close to the brain of the dogs and another electrical stimulus being applied to the hind limb of the dogs. 

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2017

Keywords: Teaching, humane euthanasia, council pound dogs. 

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

Overview: Students were taught with multiple animals including dogs to learn topographical and functional anatomy, physiology, animal handling and basic clinical/husbandry skills, methods of sample collection for diagnostic procedures, methods of administration of therapeutic/prophylactic substances, clinical examination, including procedures for obtaining diagnostic samples, anaesthesia, sedation and humane killing, surgical techniques. For example, dogs who were going to be euthanised at the local council pound were euthanised by students so that they could practise how to humanely euthanised an animal. Their bodies were then kept and used in other teaching exercises. 

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2018

 

Read more..

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

Overview: Students were taught with multiple animals including dogs to learn topographical and functional anatomy, physiology, animal handling and basic clinical/husbandry skills, methods of sample collection for diagnostic procedures, methods of administration of therapeutic/prophylactic substances, clinical examination, including procedures for obtaining diagnostic samples, anaesthesia, sedation and humane killing, surgical techniques. For example, dogs who were going to be euthanised at the local council pound were euthanised by students so that they could practise how to humanely euthanised an animal. Their bodies were then kept and used in other teaching exercises. 

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2018

 

Keywords: Disease research, haematological disease.

Aim: To examine if there is a difference in diagnostic quality in bone marrow samples from different sites on the same dog. 

Overview: 18 healthy dogs who were being euthanised under local council bylaw for reasons unrelated to physical health were killed and then bone marrow samples were taken from their bodies and examined. 

Date published: 2018

Read more..

Aim: To examine if there is a difference in diagnostic quality in bone marrow samples from different sites on the same dog. 

Overview: 18 healthy dogs who were being euthanised under local council bylaw for reasons unrelated to physical health were killed and then bone marrow samples were taken from their bodies and examined. 

Date published: 2018

Keywords: Dermatitis, skin health. 

Aim: To examine a new method of measuring different indicators of skin health (i.e. lipids) to help with a future study of seeing if they can detect atopic dermatitis in at-risk breed puppies.  

Overview: Four different methods of "lipid collection" (hair plucking, sellotape stripping, cotton bud rubbing and organic solvent washing) were used on dogs to see if they could all produce the same results. 20 healthy and 20 diseased dogs were tested.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

 

Read more..

Aim: To examine a new method of measuring different indicators of skin health (i.e. lipids) to help with a future study of seeing if they can detect atopic dermatitis in at-risk breed puppies.  

Overview: Four different methods of "lipid collection" (hair plucking, sellotape stripping, cotton bud rubbing and organic solvent washing) were used on dogs to see if they could all produce the same results. 20 healthy and 20 diseased dogs were tested.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

 

Keywords: Working dogs, performance.

Aim: "Decreased performance" results in euthanasia. The aim of this study was to find out if low blood sugar is an underlying cause of this.

Overview: Dogs were used to find out if hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) occurs in NZ working dogs and if this is affected by exercise. The glucose levels and activity levels of working dogs and non-working dogs were examined.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Read more..

Aim: "Decreased performance" results in euthanasia. The aim of this study was to find out if low blood sugar is an underlying cause of this.

Overview: Dogs were used to find out if hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) occurs in NZ working dogs and if this is affected by exercise. The glucose levels and activity levels of working dogs and non-working dogs were examined.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Keywords: Police dogs, fitness, training. 

Aim: To examine the best type of physical fitness and the best training regime for police dogs.

Overview: Dogs had blood samples taken at different intervals to measure the level of oxygen and hydrogen in their blood (measuring energy expenditure). Dogs were also fitted with a triaxial accelerometry collar to record activity type.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Read more..

Aim: To examine the best type of physical fitness and the best training regime for police dogs.

Overview: Dogs had blood samples taken at different intervals to measure the level of oxygen and hydrogen in their blood (measuring energy expenditure). Dogs were also fitted with a triaxial accelerometry collar to record activity type.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Keywords: Protein source, food preference. 

Aim: To examine which protein source dogs preferred.

Overview: Dogs were fed two different diets (the only difference was protein source). They had access to four times the amount of their metabolism energy requirement. They were able to eat until they no longer showed interest in the food, then leftover food was weighed to see which protein source dogs preferred.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Read more..

Aim: To examine which protein source dogs preferred.

Overview: Dogs were fed two different diets (the only difference was protein source). They had access to four times the amount of their metabolism energy requirement. They were able to eat until they no longer showed interest in the food, then leftover food was weighed to see which protein source dogs preferred.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Keywords: Food preference, carbohydrates.

Aim: To examine if dogs have an aversion to a particular carb source.

Overview: Dogs were given meals with the same macronutrients and different carbs (maize or rice) to measure their carb preference. 

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Read more..

Aim: To examine if dogs have an aversion to a particular carb source.

Overview: Dogs were given meals with the same macronutrients and different carbs (maize or rice) to measure their carb preference. 

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Keywords: Kidney disease, biomarker, early detection. 

Aim: To examine the possibility of early detection of kidney disease in dogs. 

Overview: Blood samples were taken from dogs over the course of 68 days, these were then analysed at a lab.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Read more..

Aim: To examine the possibility of early detection of kidney disease in dogs. 

Overview: Blood samples were taken from dogs over the course of 68 days, these were then analysed at a lab.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Keywords: Facemask, airway function. 

Aim: To assess a non-invasive way of measuring the functionality of the airways and of lung parenchyma of conscious, non-sedated animals.

Overview: Dogs and cats are fitted with a facemask attached to a spirometer. They were made to breathe 100% oxygen.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

Read more..

Aim: To assess a non-invasive way of measuring the functionality of the airways and of lung parenchyma of conscious, non-sedated animals.

Overview: Dogs and cats are fitted with a facemask attached to a spirometer. They were made to breathe 100% oxygen.

Date of Animal Ethics Committee Approval: 2016

READ MORE