Letter to the editor 4, March 16, 2017

Geoffrey Kelley, MNA; Francis Scarpallegia, MP: Stop animal abuse at West Island laboratory

Dear Editor,

Again, Quebec makes news with another story concerning the disgraceful treatment of animals.

This time a Los Angeles-based animal rights organization is calling on the Quebec government to investigate allegations of animal cruelty at a research lab in Baie-D'Urfé.

In its press release, ‘Last Chance for Animals' included hidden camera footage which showed:

"Animals thrown, slammed, suspended by their ears or limbs, and struck in the face," and "animals subject to painful and distressing procedures in full view of other animals," in violation of Canada Council on Animal Care guidelines.

What makes this story most troubling is the fact the government recently passed provincial animal-welfare legislation.

In December 2015, the Quebec government understood "animals are not things” but do experience emotions, and feel physical and psychological pain. Consequently, they were recognized, via Bill 54, as "sentient beings with biological needs."

It’s time to look closer at some guiding principles that have been around for years for more ethical use of animals in testing.

The 1959 book "The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique," by W.M.S. Russell and R.L. Burch, proposed the concept of Three Rs: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement.

In 1978, physiologist David Smyth wrote, "Alternatives to Animal Experiments," which expanded on the Three Rs.

He recommended:

Replacement alternatives by using non-animal methods for testing, such as computer modelling.

Reduction alternatives which refers to methods using fewer animals by maximizing the data from the same number of animals.

Refinement alternatives that considers the use of non-invasive techniques to minimize pain and distress.

Quebec should consider the aforementioned and think about gradually no longer using animals for testing.

We could become leaders regarding animal welfare, rather than find ourselves again in this disreputable state.

Chris Eustace


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