Myths and Realities

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A number of myths or misconceptions have arisen in the discussion about the involvement of animals in scientific research. It is important to know the facts.

   Myth: Animals are not needed in research.

Fact: Whereas every effort is made to minimize the use of animals, at certain stages of research projects, a living organism must be tested before a drug or treatment is approved for human trials. Most people would consider allowing human trials of new drugs or procedures without prior testing on animals to be dangerous and unacceptable.

   Myth: Studying animals does not provide insight into human health.

Fact: Genetic and physiological similarities between humans and animals provide researchers with irreplaceable and invaluable insights into how human systems might react to a drug or treatment.

   Myth: Dogs, cats and monkeys are the most widely used animals in research.

Fact: Fish and rodents, usually mice or rats, account for more than 83% per cent of the animals used in research and are bred specifically for research purposes. Stolen pets or SPCA animals (other myths) are not used in research. Dogs and cats are purchased from reputable suppliers.

   Myth: Research animals live in near-constant pain and suffering.

Fact: The vast majority of biomedical research does not result in significant discomfort or distress for research animals. The 2008 report of the Canadian Council on Animal Care shows that the overwhelming majority of procedures involving animals are described as experiments that cause little or no discomfort or stress or experiments that cause minor stress or pain of short duration such as an injection or minor surgery similar to pets undergoing spay or neutering. 

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