New Zealand officials are supporting the rehoming of laboratory animals, with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) backing the initiative. A petition titled Out of the Labs was started by the New Zealand Anti Vivisection Society (NZAVS) and Helping You Help Animal (HUHA).

The petition is urging for legislation to be updated via the New Zealand Animal Welfare Act 1999, and that mandatory retirement policy is supplied for former lab animals. Other countries have adopted policies whereby lab animals are rehomed in their retirement, rather than being euthanized, which is normal practice for many research centres.

Ideally, animal testing would end entirely. The psychological effects of animals being used by humans as testing objects remain with them into their new domestic lifestyles, with some animals having anxieties around humans. In New Zealand, MPI and National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) are developing programmes to rehome lab animals in the hope to reach legislative amendments.

The NAEAC are currently updating the Good Practice Guide for the Use of Animal in Research, Testing and Teaching. Kate Littin, MPI’s manager of animal welfare, said: “MPI will do what it can to encourage research, testing and teaching organizations 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.”

Beagles are commonly used in animal testing due to their trusting and docile nature. The Rescue + Freedom Project in the US is an established programme that actively works to rescue laboratory animals and rehome them, with successful results.

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