Ending the Use of Animals in Research and Testing

The Plan for Progress

In the service of what is right—for humans and for animals—we’re building a world where all animals are respected and protected from cruel and unnecessary scientific experiments. 

With more than 90 years of victories on behalf of animals behind us, NAVS is continually looking ahead toward the future of humane, human-relevant science, and toward our goal of ending the use of animals in research and testing once and for all.

Here are just a few of our priorities:

Ending the Use of Non-Human Primates in Research and Testing

PrimateAlthough the scientific community no longer uses chimpanzees in researchrecent government statistics show that nearly 71,000 macaques, baboons, marmosets and other primates are used annually, while tens of thousands more are bred and held in reserve.   

Today, non-human primates account for close to 10% of all Animal Welfare Act-covered animals used in science.  

That’s why NAVS is working closely with experts within the scientific community. They are sharing their perspectives and guiding our research aimed at first reducing, and then excluding, all non-human primates from research.  

In the near-term, our objective is the dissemination of standards and recommendations to reduce the number of nonhuman primates in research. Our approach includes examining scientific and ethical principles to better establish a sense of what is right, what is relevant and what is needed to move forward, always with an eye toward ending the use of all nonhuman primates in research and testing.  

Ending the Use of Dogs in Research and Testing 

Beagle RunningWe call them “man’s best friend,” yet USDA statistics show that nearly 60,000 dogs are used for “research, testing, teaching, or experimentation” each year. Many are used to test drugs for safety and effectiveness—despite the fact that more than 95% of drugs that pass these tests subsequently fail in human clinical trials.   

NAVS has, therefore, undertaken a campaign specifically dedicated to ending the use of dogs in research and testing. Our findings have been revelatory.

First and foremost, we’re finding that most of this cruelty inflicted upon dogs is scientifically unnecessary. This position was reinforced in a 2020 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), which found that the use of dogs in VA research was “scientifically necessary for only a few areas of current biomedical research.” 

Our other findings—including the failure of research proposals to address pain management, and weak or non-existent justifications for choosing a canine experimental model—provide additional urgency for the need to end the use of dogs in research and testing.

Ultimately, shifting research to non-animal models will require researchers to conduct more thorough assessments of potential alternative methods and approaches when justifying (or trying to justify) the use of the dog model. 

For that reason, a key element of our work is devoted to assessing the availability of viable non-animal alternatives and identifying priorities for the development of new or improved solutions, such as those being developed with the support of IFER grants 

Ending Classroom Dissection 

FrogNAVS has long sought to re-orient the educational community’s commitment to dissection as a mandated element of student life. However, our efforts are all-too-often met with resistance, as they are seen as undue or unwanted attempts by “outsiders” to dictate what is best to those whose business it supposedly is to know what is best. 

The goal of replacing the outdated use of animal dissection with superior alternative methods can only be achieved if the key players in this field are persuaded that doing so is the best course of action. 

We are fighting a mindset—and until that mindset changes, true progress will continue to be stymied. 

NAVS is addressing this need for change on multiple fronts:  

  • We’re working directly with biology educators and educational experts to develop and disseminate new educational standards, and  
  • We’re providing comprehensive online resources for students and educators looking to utilize humane science tools.  

More details about our important work to end the practice of classroom dissection can be found at BioLeap.org. 

Funding Alternatives to Replace the Use of Animals  

Of course, ending the use animals in research and testing cannot succeed without the availability of viable alternatives. That’s why NAVS, through the International Foundation for Ethical Research (IFER), NAVS provides critical funding—more than a million dollars to date—to researchers who are developing these innovative alternatives to animal experiments.