Although laboratory animals, like farm animals, are highly regulated by the USDA, these creatures are the most “unseen” and “unnoticed” group in the study. In fact, the general public’s interaction with laboratory animals is relatively nonexistent. However, allegations in 2015 against the two large research universities in the state may have done a lot to bring this group to the forefront of the animal-welfare discussion. Research facilities should continue to evaluate alternative methods, including the use of pain medication and non-animal testing techniques. How animals are acquired and the conditions of facilities to which they can retire post-research are also areas needing attention.
Oklahoma’s current pound-seizure law is a potential area of welfare concern for lab animals. In the past decade, the USDA has worked to limit the ability of research facilities to use Class B dealers in research settings, but the law should be repealed. If nothing else, this act would demonstrate a reasonable concern for the animals in our state.
Encourage Oklahoma educational and research institutions to employ the Three Rs: Reduction, Refinement, and Replacement.
Reduce the number of animals used; refine practices to reduce animal suffering and distress; and replace animal testing with alternative methods.
Educate the public on the negative consequences of the pound-seizure law.
Pound seizure allows Class B dealers to buy dogs and cats from government-owned shelters for use in research. As of February 2015, Oklahoma is currently the only state that mandates the release of these animals.
Plan for post-research humane retirement of lab animals.
Shifts in modern research practices mean that more live animals are emerging from laboratories, which are usually unsuitable for private ownership.
* Recommendations from The Oklahoma Animal Study (Kirkpatrick Foundation, 2016).