Good welfare good science: refinements and harmonisation of dog husbandry and procedures in the laboratory.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Stirling
Department Name: Psychology


Dogs have special protection under the A(SP)A 1986; given their capacity to suffer it is critical that their welfare is maximized, and that the most reliable and valid scientific results are achieved from their use. Despite ethical and welfare concerns of dog use, housing and husbandry practices are often advocated without a sound scientific understanding of their implications. A recent report on dog Refinement (JWGR, 2004) concluded that more research was needed to understand what constitutes optimal dog housing. The Refinement R should be applied to the life-to-death experience of animals associated with research and testing, both outside the scientific procedure (i.e. husbandry and housing etc) and as a consequence of the procedure (Buchanan-Smith et al 2005), and assessment of costs for cost benefit analyses should include 'contingent harms such as those caused in animal breeding' (APC, 2003, p 40). Whilst the link between good welfare and good science is often made we lack good evidence. This project will address this gap in our scientific understanding, and has the potential to have far-reaching implications for the quality of the lives and number of dogs used in laboratories, as well as scientific and financial implications. The aims of this project are: 1) To examine the relationship between good welfare and good science in dogs used in laboratories. Being able to recognise when dog welfare is affected both positively and negatively by planned Refinements in their care, handling and restraint or by procedures is fundamental. We shall use a multi-disciplinary approach to welfare assessment by linking behavioural, physical and physiological measures of welfare. The data will be related to the quality of the scientific output at baseline, in relation to validity, reliability and repeatability of physiological data. 2) Using the framework developed in (1) we shall experimentally manipulate variables (e.g. improved socialisation, changes in habituation, restraint etc) suggested to impact positively on welfare and/or quality of results to Refine practice. Any proposed changes must be feasible and practical with the constraints of laboratory use. 3) Based upon the outcomes of (1) and (2), which will determine the degree of variability in dogs at the Alderley Park site and how dogs respond to Refinements, we plan to compare two AZ dog breeding/experimental sites (Alderley Park & Lund, Sweden) to look at the consistency and reliability of data between sites in relation to existing variations in housing, husbandry, socialisation, habituation etc. AZ has a Bioethics Policy which sets out principles for the use of animals in research and is working toward the adoption of global standards for the use, housing and care of primates, based on the principles of Revised Appendix A of the European Convention. This project will provide an evidence based approach for validation of current standards in dogs, and ongoing development of these standards. Methods: Initial data will be collected on a range of welfare indicators (including growth rates, adult body weight fluctuations, facial expression, posture and type of movement, vocalizations), response to temperament tests (novel object, stranger) and in relation to rearing, housing (size and complexity, group size) and husbandry factors. A battery of baseline physiological measures (e.g. ECG, blood pressure, haematological parameters) will be correlated with behavioural welfare indicators to provide an integrated account of welfare. The results will inform the future direction of the project and any manipulations designed to improve welfare and science will be developed with scientists, veterinarians and care staff. Beagle dogs are the preferred choice of non-rodent model for testing (>4000 were used in scientific procedures in the UK in 2008). Therefore this project has broad application and scope for dog welfare and the quality of the scientific output worldwide.


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