UBC releases annual report on animal testing

UBC has released its 2013 report on the number of animals it uses for research.

In 2013, the university used 216,450 different animals, including small and large mammals, fish, reptiles and rodents, for different types of laboratory and educational research.

UBC has released a report on the number of animals used for research to the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), which oversees animal testing and its use for science in Canada, since 2011.

While the total number of animals used for research has decreased by five per cent since the report in 2012, the number of animals used for Category D research, which is rated as causing moderate to severe distress or discomfort to the animal by the CCAC, increased by 2.55 per cent from 74,556 to 76,494 animals.

Over 64 per cent of all animals used fell into Categories B and C, which range from causing little discomfort to minor stress and pain to the animal.

63 animals were used for Category E research, which is the highest category on the invasiveness rating scale and categorized as causing severe pain to the animal. This number is a 0.01 per cent decrease since 2012, when 0.04 per cent of all animals used fell into this category. Animals that were used for both Category D and E research accounted for 32.83 per cent of total animals used in 2013.

98 per cent of all animals used were rodents, fish or reptiles and amphibians. CCAC also divides the purposes for which the animals are used into six categories, which range from zero (breeding) to five (educational purposes). More than half of all animals used fell into categories one and two, which include basic and medical and veterinary research.

Stop UBC Animal Research, a group that has recently submitted a petition to the university to ban all types of animal use for research and presented a request to end Category D and E research to the UBC Senate in April, has continued advocating against any animal use by the university, especially one that falls into the higher pain categories.

“One animal screaming in pain, discomfort and fear is one too many, let alone 76,496 animals enduring moderate to severe discomfort and pain, and 63 enduring severe [pain] at or above their pain threshold,” said Laura-Leah Shaw, the president of Stop UBC Animal Research in a statement released shortly after the report. “This is what science fiction novels are made of.”

Shaw also said that the university needs to shift towards research practices that do not involve live animals.

"Time will tell if UBC and their researchers are prepared to modernize their approach to research -- but on behalf of the animals whose lives hang in the balance -- we ask UBC to immediately stop the Category D and E experiments," said Shaw.