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Kennel Club Charitable Trust funds study into stopping the use of dogs in laboratory testing

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust has awarded a significant grant to the scientific charity FRAME to support a study into looking at the use of dogs in laboratories, with a view to putting an end to this practice.

The Trust has granted £10,000 to the Nottingham-based charity to assist with the cost of running an 18 month project to undertake a comprehensive study into the laboratory use of dogs, and the development of a scientifically justified strategy for phasing out their use in biomedical research and testing. This will be the first detailed and systematic scientific analysis of the use of dogs in laboratories.

The most recent figures available show that over 5,300 dogs were used for this purpose in the UK alone in 2005, with the total reaching over 21,000 across the European Union as a whole, and a massive 65,000 used in the United States.

Apart from the pain and discomfort that dogs in laboratories can experience as a result of the scientific procedures conducted on them, they often suffer from poor standards of housing and husbandry, and lack of regular exercise and contact with humans.

Mike Townsend, Chairman of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, said: “Every year, thousands of dogs across the world are used in laboratories for a variety of purposes. The Trust is pleased to be able to support this important study into the reasons behind this, and to look at alternative means of obtaining the same vital scientific results without needing to use dogs at all. We hope that one day this kind of testing will become a thing of the past.”

The proposed study will involve a combination of assessing the need for dogs in different areas of research and testing, and eliminating the unnecessary and unjustified use of dogs. The project will involve a critical analysis of the published literature on dog use and background information concerning the biochemistry, anatomy and physiology of the dog relevant to its use as a model for human disease and risk assessment.

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust is marking its 20th anniversary this year, and the past twelve months have been the busiest yet for the charity. Since it was established in 1987, the Trust has distributed grants totalling nearly £3million to a wide variety of deserving causes, with almost £500,000 awarded in 2006 alone.

The Trust has three main objectives that support its overall mission of ‘Making a difference for dogs’:

• Science: Assisting the advancement of education and science by helping fund research into canine diseases and hereditary disorders in dogs.

• Support : Improving the quality of life for human beings by promoting dogs as therapeutic and practical aids.

• Welfare: Helping relieve the suffering of dogs who are in need of care and attention.

FRAME was founded in 1969 and specialises in undertaking research into developing alternatives to animal experiments. FRAME advocates a ‘Three Rs’ approach – Replacement, Refinement and Reduction – to animal experimentation. It is looking at finding scientifically valid alternatives to using animals in laboratories (Replacement), ways of minimising pain and distress for these animals in the meantime (Refinement) and the use of the minimum number of animals in each experiment (Reduction).

FRAME and the Kennel Club have worked together on a number of specific issues in the past, particularly with regard to the animal welfare implications of the new EU chemicals testing legislation called REACH. This legislation could require a substantial increase in the number of animals used in testing and the two organisations have been promoting the use of alternative testing strategies in discussions with both MPs and MEPs.