The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), has announced its support for the rehoming of animals used or bred for science in NZ.
This declaration comes after MPs in the Primary Production Select Committee decided against our petition that was asking for a mandatory rehoming policy for animals used for science.
Both MPI and the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee are now developing initiatives to support rehoming!
“MPI will do what it can to encourage research, testing and teaching organisations to consider rehoming, and wants to remind people thinking of rehoming laboratory animals that they need to be properly prepared to meet all their needs,” stated Manager Animal Welfare at Ministry for Primary Industries, Kate Littin.
Even though the Primary Production Select Committee said no to our petition, we weren’t put off from continuing our campaign to give animals used for science a second chance at life. We have been working hard behind the scenes, talking with MPI and bridging the gap of communication between us and decision makers.
We are confident that this announcement is genuine and that we will see MPI work independently and with us to fulfil this promise.
The National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC), are also in support of encouraging the rehoming animals used for science in NZ.
“By offering to be the points of contact for organisations and researchers, NZAVS and HUHA are signalling an opportunity where animals that have been used for Research or Teaching can be adopted. As Chair of NAEAC, I will continue to raise awareness among AECs and Code holders that options are available for rehoming animals where it is appropriate,” said Chair of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee, Grant Shackell.
NAEAC has also informed animal ethics committees that NZAVS and HUHA have offered to be the points of contact for organisations and researchers who may have animals that are appropriate for rehoming and is currently updating the Good practice guide for the use of animals in research, testing and teaching to include guidance for rehoming.
Some of the changes that we have discussed with MPI that they are now considering are:
- Changing the official reporting process so that people using animals have to specify how many animals they rehome each year (this isn't currently monitored at all), and provide more information on why animals were killed (currently researchers only have to state how many animals were killed, they don't have to specify why).
- Actively educating researchers and staff working with lab animals about rehoming.
- Promoting NZAVS and HUHA to researchers as organisations to contact if they have lab animals needing to be rehomed.
We are also communicating with them regularly about the above ideas and they have made it clear that they are open to our suggestions and working constructively with us.
To summarise, although MPI didn't think a legislative change to encourage the rehoming of animals used or bred for science was necessary yet, they do still agree that this is an important issue that needs to be addressed and changes need to be made.
MPI have told us that they think other changes, such as the ideas listed above, will help create a behavioural change within the industry and result in the rehoming of animals. They also haven't ruled out making a legislative change in the future if these first initiatives don't work effectively.