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Rehoming lab rats in New Zealand

Lab rat

An article in Cosmos Magazine has looked at some of the rehoming initiatives for rats that have previously been used in biomedical research.

Most animals used in research are humanely killed after a study or procedure ends, either to analyse tissue samples so as to further understand the nature of a disease or the effects of an experimental drug, or otherwise if their welfare is compromised (for example, if they continue to experience considerable pain).

However in other circumstances animals can be reused, such as those bred as a surplus, and these animals can be suitable for rehoming.

Now, a new partnership between the University of Auckland and the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS), has instituted a rehoming programme that facilitates the adoption of research rats and aims to find homes for 50 each month.

Jodi Salinsky, at the University of Auckland and EARA member ANZLAA, said she noted the initiative had brought about a positive shift in understanding between two stakeholders that have traditionally been on different sides.

The article also looked at rehoming programmes in Europe, such as in the Netherlands, by the Animal Welfare Body at Utrecht University and University Medical Center Utrecht, which has looked to rehome smaller laboratory animals and find homes for 2.5% of all animals used or surplus.

Meanwhile in Switzerland, the University of Bern, has begun to rehome animals as part of its commitment to the Swiss Culture of Care Charter.

Late last year, its initiative began with 30 rats from animal experiments handed over to the Swiss Animal Protection (STS) – rehoming mice and rabbits is also planned.

Isabelle Desbaillets, Animal Welfare Officer at Bern, explained that signing the Charter meant ‘official recognition that the University of Bern will do its best to apply the 3R principles beyond the legal requirements’.


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