Re-using Animals

Re-using animals as a reduction strategy has been promoted with caution by animal welfare advocates because of the potential of increased harm to individual animals. The possibility of re-use is also affected by the size of animals; for instance mice and rats can provide only limited blood samples and often need to be sacrificed to examine tissues. Re-use of larger animals such as dogs and primates is more common. The advent of newer and less invasive methods of analysis, such as telemetry and imaging technologies, is also increasing the possibility of re-using animals. However, the effects on individual animal welfare must be considered on a case-by-case basis before this type of approach can be advocated.

Occasionally, animals that have been used for a study and have not been subjected to invasive procedures may be used for a further scientific study. As well, a second major surgery may be performed on an animal if it is a non-survival procedure. Minor procedures such as biopsies may be performed more than once, but only if they can be done with effective anesthesia and analgesia and do not significantly impact the well-being of the animal. Re-use of animals for invasive procedures for reasons related to convenience and cost savings are never appropriate.

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