US Statistics

In 2018, US government statistics put the number of laboratory animals used in research at 780,070, an increase of 5.7% from 2017. This includes both public and private institutions. These statistics do not include all animals as most mice, rats, and fish are not covered by the Animal Welfare Act – though they are still covered by other regulations that protect animal welfare. We also have not included the 122,717 animals which were kept in research facilities in 2018 but were not involved in any research studies.

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The statistics show that 49.4% of research is on guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits, while 10% is on dogs or cats and 9.% on non-human primates. In the UK, where mice, rats, fish and birds are counted in the annual statistics, over 97% of research is on rodents, birds and fish. Across the EU, which measures animal use slightly differently, 93% of research is on species not counted under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). If similar proportions were applied the US, the total number of vertebrates used in research in the US would be between 11 and 23 million, however, there are no published statistics to confirm this. Given the assumptions made above on the number of other species used, it likely that dogs, cats and non-human primates together account for 1% or less of the animals used in research every year.

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Of the animal species covered under the Animal Welfare Act, 60% were involved in experiments where they experienced no pain and therefore no anesthesia was required, 33% were involved in procedures where they experienced some pain and/or required anesthesia and 7% of all animals experiences some pain but no anesthesia was provided because it would interfere with the experimental purpose.

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Government statistics show that the use of non-rodent animals has been declining over the past two decades. Since 1985 the use of animals has more than halved in the US. This includes a fall in the number of dogs from over 200,000 in 1979, to around 60,000 in 2018. Some of this fall is likely to reflect a movement towards the use of genetically modified mice.

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Let us put the number of animals used in perspective. Scientists in the US use approximately 11-23 million animals in research, of which only less than 1 million are not rats, mice, birds or fish. We use fewer animals in research than the number of ducks eaten per year in this country. We consume over 1800 times the number of pigs than the number used in research. We eat over 340 chickens for each animal used in a research facility, and almost 9,000 chickens for every animal used in research covered by the Animal Welfare Act. For every animal used in research, it is estimated that 14 more are killed on our roads.

USDA Annual Reports on Animal Usage in Research:

*If you have the 2007 report, please contact us. All reports before 2007 include species totals for all years back to 1973.