Dogs betrayed in Australia's laboratories

Dogs are supposedly "man's best friend".

Why then, do we abuse their loyalty and use them as mere "research tools"?

According to the latest available statistics, over 11,000 dogs were used for research and teaching purposes in Australia in just one year.

While the limited public information available on animals used for research does not specify what breeds of dogs are used, published research papers indicate that it is frequently greyhounds and beagles that are used - beagles because of their friendly, docile temperaments, and greyhounds because of their 'availability' when of no further use to the racing industry.

Dogs are used in Australian laboratories for toxicity testing, infection inducement, 'immunomodulatory methods', aversive stimuli behavioural testing, and more. Humane Research Australia has also exposed some of the most shocking procedures taking place in Australia, including the use of beagles for pharmaceutical drug testing, and the use of healthy greyhounds for heart surgery experiments, terminal blood donation, and to test dental implants and deep brain stimulation devices.

Humane Research Australia is opposed to the use of all animals in research and teaching on both ethical and scientific grounds. The use of greyhounds however, is of particular concern when we consider they are discarded from another unethical and very cruel industry.

Dogs are not simply laboratory 'tools' for researchers to use at their leisure. These experiments are unethical, unreliable, and unnecessary.

Given the scale of dog experiments in Australia, despite the existence of more ethical and reliable research methods, the question many are left asking is 'Should "man’s best friend" really be left to continue to suffer in Australian research laboratories?'.

What kind of experiments are being conducted on dogs?


Greyhounds killed for heart experiments: deliberately suffocated, hearts removed, transplanted and resuscitated, and then killed - read more here.


Beagles subjected to pharmaceutical drug tests - read more here.


Greyhounds surgically implanted with dental implants then killed at Melbourne Dental School - read more here.


Healthy dogs used to test deep brain stimulation devices, with electrodes placed into their brains - read more here.

HRA Case Studies

Other examples

Melbourne Dental School, University of Melbourne: In vitro bone strain analysis of implant following occlusal overload. Published 2012.

CSIRO: A highly elastic and adhesive gelatin tissue sealant for gastrointestinal surgery and colon anastomosis. Published 2012.

Alfred Hospital: Veno ventricular cannulation reduces recirculation in extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Published 2012.

University of NSW: Non-invasive estimation and control of inlet pressure in an implantable rotary blood pump for heart failure patients. Published 2011.

Monash University/Alfred Hospital: Quantifying recirculation in extracorporeal membrane oxygenation: a new technique validated. Published 2009.

Monash University/Alfred Hospital: Effect of multiorgan donation after cardiac death retrieval on lung performance. Published 2008.

Royal Melbourne Hospital/University of Melbourne: Perforating lymph vessels in the canine torso: direct lymph pathway from skin to the deep lymphatics. Published 2008.

Westmead Hospital, University of Sydney: Change in size of lesions over 3 weeks after radiofrequency ablation of left ventricle. Published 2006.

Are experiments on dogs reliable for medical research?

Not only is the thought of subjecting "man's best friend" to this kind of suffering unthinkable to most – with two thirds of Australians believing that humans do not have the moral right to experiment on animals1 – it is also scientifically unreliable.

In 2013, a groundbreaking scientific study2 showed that the use of dogs in testing human drug safety is not scientifically justifiable. In analysing data from over 2,366 experiments, the study found that the prediction success of using dogs was little better than tossing a coin.

Australian researchers should be utilising a battery of advanced human biology-based methods of research in order for results to be directly relevant to human health outcomes - not subjecting dogs to needless suffering and death.

It is now time to end the use of dogs in research laboratories and instead, focus on ethical research that is human-relevant.

Help stop experiments on dogs

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1 Nexus Research (2013), Public Opinion Poll on Humane Research Issues: A Market Research Report to Australian Association for Humane Research Inc., Abbotsford: Nexus Research Pty Ltd.

2 Bailey, J, Thew, M Balls, M (2013), 'An Analysis of the Use of Dogs in Predicting Human Toxicology and Drug Safety', ATLA, 41: 335-350.

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