In 2017, the RVC used 11,181 animals in research compared to 14,818 in 2016. The vast majority of these were rodents, (predominantly mice (35%) and rats (32%)); and zebrafish (21%).

22 client-owned pet dogs and 30 pet cats were involved in studies conducted under ASPA at the RVC where veterinary patients are studied in depth. These were all used with informed client consent and involved procedures of recognised veterinary practice but for reasons explained below could not be undertaken under the Veterinary Surgeons Act. 288 horses either remained or returned to their home stables as part of our clinical research programmes.  Twelve cows were blood sampled for experimental purposes but remained as part of a dairy herd at the College’s farm.

SpeciesNumber usedReturned to owners or rehomed
Amphibians 4 0
Birds - other 4 0
Cats 30 30
Cattle 12 12
Dogs 43 28
Domestic fowl 627 0
Horses 288 277
Mice 3,919 0
Pigs 165 18
Rats 3,565 0
Sheep 70 0
Turkeys 120 0
Zebrafish 2,324 0
 Total 11,181 353

The majority of the procedures we undertake are classified as sub-threshold (e.g. breeding of genetically altered mice) or mild (e.g. taking a series of blood samples). See table below:

We undertake a large number of clinical studies involving veterinary patients who return to the care of their owners at the end of each procedure, which may have been something as simple as a blood test. Some of these studies need to be undertaken under Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act (ASPA) - because, for example, additional blood samples or other clinical tests were undertaken for research purposes, rather than for the direct benefit of the animal involved in the study - and are included in the above table.

For more information on these types of studies and the animals involved see Research using Client-owned Animals.

See also Use of Animals in Research - Case Studies for a series of short articles explaining how and why we use animals in research at the RVC.

Severity of procedures: 

Sub-threshold Mild .            Moderate .       Non-Recovery Severe*       
18.5% 39.1% 38.1% 1.5% 2%

*The Home Office expects that any animals found dead but not observed within a few hours of death are reported as severe. All of the animals within our return classified as severe were categorised as such for this reason apart from one. 97.7% of these were zebra fish – the longevity of these fish is recognised to be relatively short and it is likely that the majority of these died of natural causes rather than anything related to the research. The definitions of severity categories as defined by the Home Office are available in Guidance on the Operation of ASPA (Appendix G)

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