Differentiation between animal research and veterinary treatment
Animal Research Review Panel Policy 6
Revised: 8 May 2014
The Animal Research Act 1985 contains a definition of “animal research”:
animal research means any procedure, test, experiment, inquiry, investigation or study in connection with which an animal is used and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes any procedure, test, experiment, inquiry, investigation or study in the course of which:
(a) an animal is subjected to:
(i) surgical, medical, psychological, biological, chemical or physical treatment,
(ii) abnormal conditions of heat, cold, light, dark, confinement, noise, isolation or overcrowding,
(iii) abnormal dietary conditions, or
(iv) electric shock or radiation treatment, or
(b) any material or substance is extracted or derived from the body of an animal.”
One exemption from this definition is:
“..the administration of veterinary treatment to an animal for the purpose of protecting the welfare of the animal..”
In the majority of cases, the decision on whether an activity comes within the definition of animal research or veterinary treatment for the welfare of the animal will not be difficult to make. There are, however, some situations in which this decision is less clear. In such situations, to assist in making a decision on whether an activity constitutes animal research or veterinary treatment for the welfare of the animal, the following may be considered:
The activity is likely to come within the definition of animal research if its primary purpose is not to protect the welfare of the animal being treated. For example treatment to establish the efficacy of a therapeutic agent, rather than to alleviate disease, pain or distress.
Factors that would support the activity being animal research:
- Results are to be recorded.
- A condition has been induced specifically for the evaluation of a treatment.
- Animals with a condition have been specifically located and isolated for the purpose of establishing the efficacy of a treatment.
- The activity involves the testing of a new treatment or a treatment for a new purpose.
The activity is likely to come within the exemption for veterinary treatment if its primary purpose is to protect the welfare of the animal being treated. For example treatment to alleviate disease, pain or distress.
Factors that would support the activity being veterinary treatment for the welfare of the animal:
- There is a risk to an animal’s welfare if the treatment is not carried out.
- The treatment is generally accepted clinical practice for a particular condition.
- The decision to carry out the treatment is one of clinical judgement rather than experimentation.
- The treatment for a particular condition is supported by the existence of published data or other evidence to show that it is a recognised, albeit new, form of treatment for that condition.