The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), has announced their support for the rehoming of ex-lab animals in New Zealand. This declaration comes after MPs in the Primary Production Select Committee decided against our (NZAVS and HUHA's), petition that was asking for a mandatory retirement policy for ex-lab animals, to help encourage rehoming and prevent unnecessary euthanasia.
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 ex-lab animals 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 and actively support the rehoming of ex-lab animals in NZ.
Both NZAVS and HUHA have openly stated that we are willing to be the first points of contact for any facility in NZ who has ex-lab animals that need rehoming and we are confident that we have the expertise and experience to successfully rehabilitate and rehome ex-lab animals.
Our collaborative partners at HUHA have multiple sanctuaries and have extensive experience with rehabilitating institutionalised animals so we are confident that they (NZ's biggest no kill animal shelter), will be more than capable of helping these animals!
Team NZAVS will be able to help by continuing to build our database that contains the details of people all over NZ who want the opportunity to rehome an ex-lab animal, to make sure that we have enough people available to give these animals loving homes. We will also monitor the changes being made by the NZ government and if needed, we will continue to lobby for a legislative incentive to be established in NZ.
The National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC), are also in support of encouraging the rehoming of ex-lab animals 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 ex-lab animals 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 ex-lab animals. They also haven't ruled out making a legislative change in the future if these first initiatives don't work effectively.
Even though both HUHA and NZAVS are strongly opposed to animal experimentation, there is no reason for the animals who are sadly still being used by the industry to be killed needlessly.
We will now start contacting all facilities in NZ who use animals for research, testing and teaching to update them on these changes!
Now more animals like Archie and Monty the ex-lab rats (pictures below), will have more of a chance to experience a life with humans, free from fear and pain.
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us with this campaign, because of you, lab animals now have a better chance of being given a second chance at life!