Thousands of animals are killed after being used for research, testing and teaching (RTT), in New Zealand every year. Currently, there are no laws or regulations in place to protect these animals from being needlessly euthanised.
In 2016 alone over 62,000 animals were killed during or after being used for RTT in NZ.
The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS) and Helping You Help Animals (HUHA) teamed up to ask the government to create a mandatory retirement policy for ex-RTT animals, to help encourage the rehoming of ex-RTT animals and prevent unnecessary euthanasia. With your help, we got over 16,000 signatures on our petition asking the government to establish a mandatory retirement policy.
Unfortunately, in May 2018, the MPs deciding on our petition decided against making a small legislative change to save the lives of thousands of lab animals. But we didn't let that stop us! Instead, we met with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) directly and spent a lot of time bridging the gap between us and decision makers.
In July 2018 MPI announced that they are going to actively start encouraging the rehoming of ex-RTT animals in NZ - A massive win for animals all around the country!
NZAVS and HUHA are strongly opposed to the use of animals for animal experimentation but until the day this ends, we need the best possible outcomes for these animals.
HUHA have rescued and rehomed beagles being bred for research after the VARC laboratory closed. These animals went on to live wonderful lives with humans, so we know it is possible to successfully rescue and rehabilitate institutionalised ex-RTT animals.
The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS) and Helping You Help Animals (HUHA) have come together to help get as many animals out of labs and into loving homes, as possible!
WHAT IS MPI AND NAEAC DOING?
Both MPI and the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) have started initiatives to support rehoming.
MPI added a section to their website highlighting that they encourage this and the Good practice guide for the use of animals in research, testing and teaching will soon include guidance for rehoming.
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.
Read about some of the changes that we have discussed with MPI that they are now considering here.
To summarise, although MPI didn't think a legislative change to encourage the rehoming of ex-RTT 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 in the link above, will help create a behavioural change within the industry and result in the rehoming of ex-lRTT animals. They also haven't ruled out making a legislative change in the future if these first initiatives don't work effectively.
WHAT ARE WE DOING NOW?
We will continue meeting with decision makers to find more ways to work together to get as many animals out of labs as possible. If we don't see substantial changes, we will once again, campaign for a legislative change for ex-RTT animals.
We are happy to be the first point of contact for facilities around NZ with ex-RTT animals needing to be rehabilitated and rehomed and we will actively promote this.
HUHA has a lot of experience with rehabilitating and rehoming institutionalised animals including ex-lab, ex-circus and ex-farm animals so they are the perfect shelter to take on these animals!
Once animals are collected, they will get a vet check and get appropriate vet treatment, then they will be assessed and will begin their rehoming process. We will take great care to ensure that these animals go to willing and able people who are aware of their history (when it is known) and anyone adopting these animals will have to sign a contract agreeing not to breed the animals or treat them in any harmful way and if they change their mind and longer want them, they are obliged to return them to HUHA.
We have already gotten the opportunity to rescue one group of fifty mice from Massey University (read more below). We hope that this is just the first case of many moving forward!
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
- Donate to Help rewrite the future for other ex-research, testing and teaching animals in NZ.
- Adopt an ex-RTT animal!
We have a growing list of people who would love the opportunity to rehome these animals, especially ex-RTT rats or mice.
If you would like to hear about opportunities to rehome ex-RTT animals in NZ, then add yourself to our "ex-RTT animal waiting list" and be notified when an animal is needing a forever home in your area!
Just send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following:
- Your name
- Email address
- Phone number
- What kind of animal you would like to rehome and how many (i.e. one dog or two rats etc.)
This way we can be prepared for when facilities around NZ who use animals for research, testing or teaching and don't want to euthanise animals needlessly, contact us offering ex-RTT animals for adoption!
To clarify, we don't currently have any ex-RTT animals needing homes, but we want to be prepared for when/if we get offered any from facilities around NZ who use animals for research, testing or teaching.
A small number of animals are lucky enough to have made it out of a lab and into a loving home. Here are some of their heartwarming stories:
Flower, Thumper and Bambi the Mice
Watch the beginning of their journey here:
Lewi the Rat
Lewi was rescued from a research facility in NZ. He was lucky enough to be saved and live a life full of eating snacks, socialising with his new sisters, cuddling with his human, and napping in his very own hammock. Read more about Lewi here.
Billy the Beagle
Billy was rescued from the Valley Animal Research Centre in 2011. Billy was used to breed from; his puppies were used for research. He now lives with his human parents Jenny and Nigel and lives a life of luxury! Watch the short clip about Billy and his new parents below.
Willow the Rat
Willow was rescued from a university in NZ as a baby. She was initially very scared and couldn't be handled. Now her human mum Monique can hold and cuddle willow with no problems. Her favourite foods are peas and watermelon. Sadly Willow is blind (which Monique thinks is due to the type of testing she had to endure) but she has a wonderful life and has a guide rat (a young rat who helps show her around her house and find the water and food bowl etc.). You can see video footage of Monique and Willow together here.
Archie and Monty the Rats
Archie and Monty were two of a small group of rats rescued from a vivisection facility in New Zealand. We (NZAVS) adopted these two beautiful rats, and they lived at our National Office in Christchurch. They spent their days getting lots of TLC from our volunteers, eating their favourite food and inspiring everyone they met! Read more about Archie and Monty here.
If you have adopted an ex-RTT animal and would like to share your story with us, then please get in touch — email@example.com.
We know that a lot of people have tried to rescue and rehome lab animals in New Zealand. Many students are forced to use live animals in their coursework when they don't want to and have tried and been stopped from doing so. Your stories and experiences can make an impact and ensure changes are made. We'd love you to share them here for others to read and to be shared with MPs. Please email us with what you experienced; just let us know if you want to remain anonymous, which is understandable. Thank you!
“I studied some animal behaviour papers at University, one of them involved doing experiments with mice. These were all really humane tests and mainly involved observing different breeds of mice and how their behaviour differs. After my class was finished with these mice (around 60 of them) I was really curious to know what was going to happen to them. After finding out they were all going to be gassed once we were finished with them I was truly horrified
All of these mice were perfectly healthy and judging by the way they all clung to the side of the cage trying to wedge their little heads between the bars, they wanted to live.
I started asking my teachers if I could re-home them or just keep them myself, they told me it was above their power and that they couldn't do anything, I then tried to reach out to other people and sent numerous emails trying to find someone who could help me save these mice. Having no luck and after making a lot of my teachers annoyed I contemplated just taking the mice, unfortunately, my teachers figured this out and said if any mice were missing they'd know it was me. In the end all the mice were gassed and I was left feeling helpless and incredibly guilty. There was no need for these animals to die, animals who are used in experiments in the name of science should not have to be killed after we are done with them. It makes absolutely no sense when there are people out there willing to give them a good home”
“When I was a young Trainee Veterinary Nurse, we had a practical lesson at Wallaceville Animal Research in Upper Hutt. The lesson was in IV catheterisation and fluid therapy. The lesson was held at the animal research centre because there were breeding dogs that we could use and practice on during the lesson. The dogs we used were healthy Labrador-types.
At the end of the session, the Vet/Tutor told us that he had always been curious as to how much air you would need to inject into an IV line in order to kill an animal. He proceeded to suck air into a large syringe and was about to inject it into the dog he was demonstrating on.
His reasoning was that the dog was of no longer required for research anymore and was due to be euthanized by the research team anyway. As his audience was a group of young animal-loving trainee vet nurses the vet did not get to fulfil his curiosity that evening. Though I suspect the dog's life ended soon after as per the research protocol."
If you have stories like this that you would like to share with us, get in touch — firstname.lastname@example.org.