Saturday, August 10, 2013

Enquiry into the RSPCA? - Part 5: Laboratory animals

During most of its existence the Society has taken a relatively pragmatic view of animal experimentation, accepting that most people will put human health above animal suffering and pressing for reform rather than abolition. It accepts the general scientific consensus on the validity of animal experiments and promotes the moral imperative to reduce animal use to the minimum compatible with medical progress.

In the past this has sometimes brought it into conflict with scientists unwilling to accept any legal limits on science. However the question of experiments has been significant as yet another position on which the Society's "gatekeeper" position has made it a target for campaigners who will accept nothing less than the abolition of animal use.

What an enquiry might comment

The RSPCA's comparatively modest position on experiments has probably enabled it to be more effective than other organisations who cannot engage with the political process because it is plain that no reform will be enough to satisfy them.

It is a pity that recent changes in the society, intended to reduce "back office" costs which will appear as administration on the balance sheet, have diminished the strength of the Science Group. Donors should be encouraged to understand the importance of this apparently unexciting area of the Society's work and give it more support.

The RSPCA's work to reduce animal suffering in experiments rarely hits the headlines, but its research animals department plays an influential role in many bodies.

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