Queensland Pound Dogs

Humane Research Australia has campaigned against the use of pound dogs in veterinary teaching since 2006.

The reasons:

Caged Dog
  • Abandoned animals in pounds and shelters have already suffered the fear and distress of losing their carers and familiar territory. Their use in research is the ultimate betrayal and one that cannot be condoned in a caring society.
  • The use of pound dogs creates a dependence on pet overpopulation and is therefore taking advantage of the human irresponsibility and cruelty necessitating pounds rather than addressing the problem.
  • The primary justification for using pound animals in research and teaching is that they are already destined to die, so their use in teaching will give their lives and deaths purpose. But these animals are sentient individuals and not mere tools for teaching and practicing on. They already have their own intrinsic worth.
  • Trainee veterinarians should be learning to respect life.
  • There are already alternatives available in veterinary teaching that allow students to acquire an education equal to those that use animals in terminal surgery. Use of pound dogs is therefore a failure to implement the "3R's" (reduction, refinement and replacement) principle.
  • If it is necessary for veterinary students to practice on real animals then they could provide a desexing service to pounds and shelters thereby providing a real benefit for the individual animals. This will also mean that students will gain the experience of observing and monitoring post-operative recovery. Students may also gain hands-on experience by assisting with and performing supervised surgeries in private veterinary practices on patients in genuine need of assistance - as is practiced in UK veterinary colleges and how human doctors learn in teaching hospitals.

Current situation:

Together with our members and supporters we have engaged in ongoing correspondence with the councils involved (resulting in each of them no longer providing animals), the (then) Minister for Primary Industries (Tim Mulherin) and the University of Queensland Veterinary School. We have collected petitions which have since been tabled in Parliament and we have personally presented a detailed submission - backed by international experts - to the Minister's Animal Welfare Advisory Committee which, at the request of the Minister, had undertaken a thorough review of the issue.

The review is now complete and AWAC's recommendations have been made to the Minister. They advised that the use of pound dogs for veterinary teaching should be phased out as soon as possible.

Following the recommendations, Biosecurity Queensland has met with University of Queensland to discuss implementation of new procedures. It is believed that all parties have been receptive to the changes.

There will not be any official government policy on this, but Biosecurity Queensland will be working closely with all stakeholders to ensure the transition progresses.

Our concern at the moment however, is whether the university has simply switched to using other species - most likely sheep and pigs, which are less responsive to human contact and would be even more stressed by the handling procedures. We are therefore following up with the university and the new Queensland government to clarify the current position and will continue to work with all parties to bring an end to all terminal surgeries.

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