Ireland has recently published its annual statistics showing the number of animals used for research and testing in 2015. Ireland carried out 228,975 procedures on animals in 2015, 1% more than in 2014.
A procedure is defined as “any use of an animal for scientific or educational purposes, which may cause the animal a level of pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm, equivalent to, or higher than, that caused by the introduction of a needle in accordance with good veterinary practice.” This definition includes the development and care of any genetically modified animal in which pain or distress may result.
Mice continue to be the most commonly used species at 83%. Together, mice, rats, and fish account for 90% of all animal procedures. No non-human primates, hamsters, or gerbils were used in Ireland in 2015. Dogs and cats accounted for less than 0.33% of all animals used and represent a 27% and 63% decrease in number of procedures for these species, respectively, from 2014. Interestingly, 99% of animals used in Ireland were bred in the European Union (EU).
While procedures on pigs, cattle, and other animals rose by 307%, 193%, and 148% respectively, combined, these groups only account for 6.6% of all animal procedures performed in Ireland.
69% of the total number of animals used was for testing the safety, quality, and potency of medicines – a necessary requirement under EU law for new drugs. The next most common use was for basic research (18%) followed by translational and applied research (10%).
The report showed that 49% of procedures were classified as mild, 22% moderate, 27% severe, and 2% non-recovery. There was a significant reduction in severe procedures in 2015 when compared to 2014. 99% of severe procedures were on mice. Page 17 of the report has definitions for mild, moderate, severe and non-recovery.