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.

Take action!


Further reading


Summary: Dogs were fed dead possum either whole or minced. Once they got used to that, the feed was poisoned with sodium nitrite and signs for poisoning were monitored. In the end, all animals were killed and dissected.


Procedure: Wild possums were captured in live cage traps and transported to the Lincoln University Animal Facility. The possums were fed with a paste containing sodium nitrite. Once dead, possums were collected, placed in sacks and stored in a freezer. Dogs and cats were either fed whole or minced possum meat and guts. Non-poisoned possums that had been caught and killed for fur were used as control.

Dogs were kept alone and fed with non-toxic possums to get them used to it (group A: whole dead possum, group B: minced possum). After one week, the possums were switched to the poisoned ones for six days. Signs of poisoning were monitored, and blood samples were taken. The researchers made judgement calls to kill dogs showing signs of poisoning. In the end, all dogs were killed and dissected. Same procedure with cats. Same procedure with chickens (only minced possum, no blood samples).

Purpose: To demonstrate that sodium nitrite is safer than 1080 for possum control. Dead possums can poison dogs, and nitrite poses a lesser risk. Previous studies with mice and rats showed that sodium nitrite leaves their bodies within 8 hours when they are killed with it.

Source: Journal article

Year published: 2018

Read more..

Summary: Dogs were fed dead possum either whole or minced. Once they got used to that, the feed was poisoned with sodium nitrite and signs for poisoning were monitored. In the end, all animals were killed and dissected.


Procedure: Wild possums were captured in live cage traps and transported to the Lincoln University Animal Facility. The possums were fed with a paste containing sodium nitrite. Once dead, possums were collected, placed in sacks and stored in a freezer. Dogs and cats were either fed whole or minced possum meat and guts. Non-poisoned possums that had been caught and killed for fur were used as control.

Dogs were kept alone and fed with non-toxic possums to get them used to it (group A: whole dead possum, group B: minced possum). After one week, the possums were switched to the poisoned ones for six days. Signs of poisoning were monitored, and blood samples were taken. The researchers made judgement calls to kill dogs showing signs of poisoning. In the end, all dogs were killed and dissected. Same procedure with cats. Same procedure with chickens (only minced possum, no blood samples).

Purpose: To demonstrate that sodium nitrite is safer than 1080 for possum control. Dead possums can poison dogs, and nitrite poses a lesser risk. Previous studies with mice and rats showed that sodium nitrite leaves their bodies within 8 hours when they are killed with it.

Source: Journal article

Year published: 2018

Summary: Dogs with Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) IIIA were bred within an experimental colony. As part of characterizing them as a model for testing, the dogs were killed for dissection.


Procedure: The dogs with MPSIIIA were bred in a colony solely created for this purpose. This study used two dogs (29 and 39 months old), with additional information from 3 others (21, 29, and 35 months old) that were used in therapy experiments. A normal Huntaway-type dog and a littermate were used as control. All dogs were killed by anaesthetic overdose and dissected. 

Purpose: To test a dog model for Mucopolysaccharidosis IIIA. MPS IIA is a severe genetic disorder where the body cannot break down large carbohydrates. Symptoms include progressive dementia, aggressive behaviour, hyperactivity, seizures, deafness, loss of vision, and an inability to sleep for more than a few hours.

Source: Journal article

Year published: 2007

Read more..

Summary: Dogs with Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS) IIIA were bred within an experimental colony. As part of characterizing them as a model for testing, the dogs were killed for dissection.


Procedure: The dogs with MPSIIIA were bred in a colony solely created for this purpose. This study used two dogs (29 and 39 months old), with additional information from 3 others (21, 29, and 35 months old) that were used in therapy experiments. A normal Huntaway-type dog and a littermate were used as control. All dogs were killed by anaesthetic overdose and dissected. 

Purpose: To test a dog model for Mucopolysaccharidosis IIIA. MPS IIA is a severe genetic disorder where the body cannot break down large carbohydrates. Symptoms include progressive dementia, aggressive behaviour, hyperactivity, seizures, deafness, loss of vision, and an inability to sleep for more than a few hours.

Source: Journal article

Year published: 2007

Summary: Dogs with Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS IIIA) received medication, either from birth or 12 weeks to 23 weeks of age. One group received a placebo. Drugs were given under anaesthesia, either as injections into the vein or close to the brain. At 23 weeks old, all puppies were killed and their brains removed.


Procedure: Dogs were bred at a commercial research facility and genotyped via blood samples. Dogs received treatment with recombinant human SGSH (rhSGSH) on different schedules:
1) injections into the vein from birth to 12 weeks old, followed by brain injections weekly and later fortnightly up to 23 weeks old;
2) injections into the vein from birth to 8 weeks old, followed by brain injections fortnightly up to 23 weeks old;
3) injections into the vein weekly from 12 to 15 weeks old and then fortnightly up to 23 weeks old;
4) just buffer solution injections into the brain weekly from 12 to 15 weeks old and then fortnightly up to 23 weeks.
Blood and spinal fluid samples near the brain were taken alongside injections. After the final injection, the dogs were killed, and their brains were dissected. Tissues from four untreated dogs of different age were used as controls.

Purpose: To test different treatment plans for Mucopolysaccharidosis IIIA. MPS IIA is a severe genetic disorder where the body cannot break down large carbohydrates.

Source: Journal article

Year published: 2011

Read more..

Summary: Dogs with Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS IIIA) received medication, either from birth or 12 weeks to 23 weeks of age. One group received a placebo. Drugs were given under anaesthesia, either as injections into the vein or close to the brain. At 23 weeks old, all puppies were killed and their brains removed.


Procedure: Dogs were bred at a commercial research facility and genotyped via blood samples. Dogs received treatment with recombinant human SGSH (rhSGSH) on different schedules:
1) injections into the vein from birth to 12 weeks old, followed by brain injections weekly and later fortnightly up to 23 weeks old;
2) injections into the vein from birth to 8 weeks old, followed by brain injections fortnightly up to 23 weeks old;
3) injections into the vein weekly from 12 to 15 weeks old and then fortnightly up to 23 weeks old;
4) just buffer solution injections into the brain weekly from 12 to 15 weeks old and then fortnightly up to 23 weeks.
Blood and spinal fluid samples near the brain were taken alongside injections. After the final injection, the dogs were killed, and their brains were dissected. Tissues from four untreated dogs of different age were used as controls.

Purpose: To test different treatment plans for Mucopolysaccharidosis IIIA. MPS IIA is a severe genetic disorder where the body cannot break down large carbohydrates.

Source: Journal article

Year published: 2011

Summary: Puppies with the genetic disorder MPS IIIA were treated with enzymes injected directly into the spinal fluid near the brain. Treatment was done until 22 -24 weeks old and varied in dose and frequency. In the end, the puppies were killed for dissection.


Procedure: Young dogs with the genetic disorder MPS IIIA were treated with enzymes injected directly into the spinal fluid near the brain. Some received weekly injections from birth, others from 12 weeks old. Some puppies received higher doses bi-weekly or once a month. Treatment was done until 22 -24 weeks old. In the end, the treated puppies and two control dogs were killed. Their brains were taken for dissection.

Purpose: To test the effect of the dose and frequency of enzyme therapy on the disease progression of Mucopolysaccharidosis type IIIA (MPS IIIA). MPS IIIA is a severe genetic disorder where the body cannot break down large carbohydrates. Symptoms include progressive dementia, aggressive behaviour, hyperactivity, seizures, deafness, loss of vision, and an inability to sleep for more than a few hours.

Source: Journal article

Year published: 2015

Read more..

Summary: Puppies with the genetic disorder MPS IIIA were treated with enzymes injected directly into the spinal fluid near the brain. Treatment was done until 22 -24 weeks old and varied in dose and frequency. In the end, the puppies were killed for dissection.


Procedure: Young dogs with the genetic disorder MPS IIIA were treated with enzymes injected directly into the spinal fluid near the brain. Some received weekly injections from birth, others from 12 weeks old. Some puppies received higher doses bi-weekly or once a month. Treatment was done until 22 -24 weeks old. In the end, the treated puppies and two control dogs were killed. Their brains were taken for dissection.

Purpose: To test the effect of the dose and frequency of enzyme therapy on the disease progression of Mucopolysaccharidosis type IIIA (MPS IIIA). MPS IIIA is a severe genetic disorder where the body cannot break down large carbohydrates. Symptoms include progressive dementia, aggressive behaviour, hyperactivity, seizures, deafness, loss of vision, and an inability to sleep for more than a few hours.

Source: Journal article

Year published: 2015

Summary: Newborn puppies are genotyped and divided into treatment groups. Some are left untreated. Some are injected with potential medication. The injection is into the neck vein or into the liver vein. For that, puppies are anaesthetised, have their belly cut open and the drug injected into the liver vein. All puppies are killed after regular blood and one spinal fluid sample.


Procedure: Blood samples are taken from newborn puppies to test them for the desired gene defect. One group receives gene therapy as an injection into the neck vein at three days old. Surgery is performed on two other groups at eight weeks old. Their bellies are cut to inject the drug into the liver vein. The two other groups (one group with the gene defect and one control group) are left untreated. All puppies have regular blood samples. At 24 weeks, all puppies are anaesthetised, and spinal fluid is sampled before all are killed for dissection.

Purpose: To test the results of a new gene therapy tested in mice for Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS). Positive effects in larger animals were assumed to justify trials with humans. MPS is a severe genetic disorder where the body cannot break down large carbohydrates.

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2015

Read more..

Summary: Newborn puppies are genotyped and divided into treatment groups. Some are left untreated. Some are injected with potential medication. The injection is into the neck vein or into the liver vein. For that, puppies are anaesthetised, have their belly cut open and the drug injected into the liver vein. All puppies are killed after regular blood and one spinal fluid sample.


Procedure: Blood samples are taken from newborn puppies to test them for the desired gene defect. One group receives gene therapy as an injection into the neck vein at three days old. Surgery is performed on two other groups at eight weeks old. Their bellies are cut to inject the drug into the liver vein. The two other groups (one group with the gene defect and one control group) are left untreated. All puppies have regular blood samples. At 24 weeks, all puppies are anaesthetised, and spinal fluid is sampled before all are killed for dissection.

Purpose: To test the results of a new gene therapy tested in mice for Mucopolysaccharidosis (MPS). Positive effects in larger animals were assumed to justify trials with humans. MPS is a severe genetic disorder where the body cannot break down large carbohydrates.

Source: AEC application via OIA-request

Year approved: 2015

READ MORE