The statistics for animal research conducted in Canada in 2015 have been released by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC). These numbers reflect research conducted by CCAC-certified institutions and by people working at CCAC-certified institutions, even if the research involves animals located outside of Canada. The criteria for CCAC certification can be found here. This also means that not all animals used for research in Canada are included in these reports. The CCAC reports that in 2015, 3,570,352 animals were used for research, teaching, and testing in Canada. This is a decrease of 4.8% from the 3,750,125 animals that were used in 2014.
84.2% of the animals used in research and testing were conducted on mice, rats, fish, and birds, which was slightly lower than in other countries. However, with the inclusion of cattle, this percentage rises to 93.9%. Similarly to other countries, monkeys (4,942), cats (5,035), and dogs (9,573) comprised a small proportion of animals used for research, together accounting for 0.5% of all research animals, with an overall decrease of 5,592 animals from 2014 for these species.
Pain, suffering, and harm were also measured and classified under four categories of invasiveness:
- None: Experiments which cause little of no discomfort or stress
- Mild: Experiments which cause minor stress or pain of short duration
- Moderate: Expierments which cause moderate to severe distress or discomfort
- Severe: Procedures which cause severe pain near, at, or above the pain tolerance threshold of unanesthetized conscious animals.
It is important to understand that every animal in a group will receive the highest category of any single animal in that group, so if a study involved giving different animals different doses of a compound (in a single study), then all animals would receive a category of invasiveness equal to that received by the highest dose group. For further details on what these categories mean, please see here. In 2015, 31.1% of experiments were classified as “none” (this includes studies where the animal are anaesthetised and never woken up), 37.4% were considered “mild”, 29.5% were “moderate”, and 2% were “severe”.
Overall, there seems to be an upward trend in the number of animals used in research in Canada over the last 20 years, although this pattern is not particularly clear due to annual fluctuations. These fluctuations may be a consequence of the accounting procedures used (which changed in 2012), and may only reflect animals used in CCAC-certified institutions.
Finally, the CCAC Animal Data Report 2015 provides some information on animal use. The most common purpose of animal experiments was for basic research (61.2%), followed by “development of products or appliances for human or veterinary medicine” (16.0%); studies into human and animal diseases or disorders (12.9%); Regulatory tests (“animal testing”) (5.5%); and finally education and training (4.4%).
For more information see our Briefing on Animal Research in Canada.