Lab Animals

The New Hampshire Animal Rights League believes that animals have a right not to spend their lives in barren cages, awaiting the next painful experiment or procedure. Tragically, this is exactly what happens to millions of animals every year — including hundreds, if not thousands, of animals in New Hampshire.

To make matters worse, taxpayer dollars are used help pay for these experiments. A portion of our federal taxes goes toward funding the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which in turn makes grants to institutions that test on animals. Some research facilities receive billions in taxpayer dollars for animal experiments.

There are a number of organizations working hard to end the use of animals in experiments, including Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) and the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS).

Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN)

After witnessing the atrocities of animal experimentation firsthand as a student, Michael Budkie founded Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN, pronounced “sane”) and dedicated his life to ending animal experimentation.

Our organization exists for one purpose and one purpose only. We exist to end animal experimentation. — Michael Budkie speaking in 2018

SAEN has successfully terminated research projects, forced the U.S. Department of Agriculture to take legal action against laboratories, and coordinated the release of animals into sanctuaries.

As of 2021, SAEN is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the USDA, prompted by the agency quietly revising its inspection policy to be more lenient toward research facilities without notice to the public or an opportunity to comment, as required by law. 

A few years back, NHARL had the privilege of meeting with Michael Budkie in Concord, NH.

Inspections and Annual Reports

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is required to conduct routine, unannounced inspections of all research facilities that use animals. These inspections are intended to ensure compliance with Animal Welfare Act regulations and standards. In addition, research facilities must submit annual reports listing the numbers and types of animals used in experiments during the year.

Requiring inspections and annual reporting would imply that lab animals are protected; however, this amounts to only minimal oversight in enforcing standards of care that are very low to begin with. The USDA considers the research facilities its “customers,” and the agency’s priority is serving the needs of its customers, not protecting the animals.

Both inspection reports and annual reports are publicly available and can be accessed from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service page.

(Note: In 2017, the USDA abruptly removed inspection and annual reports from its web site, citing licensee privacy concerns. A number of lawsuits were brought in response. The records have been restored, although not fully, and some of the detail previously available is no longer included. In this same timeframe, the USDA implemented the “Teachable Moments Rule” and “Self-Reporting Rule,” two new enforcement policies that basically give facilities a get-out-of-jail-free card and replace enforcement with education.)

Animal Welfare Act Exclusions

The Animal Welfare Act was passed in 1966 in response to public outcry resulting from publicity about the terrible treatment of animals in certain government-run and commercial facilities.

The Animal Welfare Act was designed to ensure that animals would at least have their basic needs met and not be subjected to pain and distress when it could be avoided without compromising the research.

For some animals, though, nothing would change. Mice, rats, birds, amphibians, and fish were, and still are, excluded from the Animal Welfare Act. Having no welfare protections, these animals can be used in any number, for any purpose, without the experimenters being required to disclose any of it to the outside world.

Rats and mice are believed to comprise over 90% of the animals used in experimentation. Therefore, the majority of animals used at research facilities have no welfare protections.

How to File a Complaint

Anyone with concerns about the care of an animal protected under the Animal Welfare Act may file an animal welfare complaint.

Animal testing in New Hampshire

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture records as of April 2021, there are currently two facilities in New Hampshire that experiment on animals:

  • Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
  • University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH

Dartmouth College

An inspection report for Dartmouth College prepared in May of 2017 indicated that the college had violated the Animal Welfare Act on four counts.

The most serious of these violations resulted in the death of eight voles. According to the inspection report, staff had removed their water bottles and failed to replace them, leaving the voles without water for two days. In addition, the absence of water bottles went unnoticed by staff performing daily checks.

The three other violations were failures to follow protocol. In the first case, procedures causing more than momentary pain were performed without documentation to show that alternatives had been considered. In another case, experimenters neglected to document exactly how an animal would be used (for example, how often blood would be drawn and how long the experiment would last). Lastly, two non-human primates were caged alone and deprived of environmental enhancement.

To date, subsequent inspection reports for Dartmouth College indicate no violations.

The table below shows how many animals Dartmouth College has used for research in recent years. Details, including whether the animals experienced pain, can be found in the individual annual reports (accessible from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service page). In the reports, “All Other Animals” are listed by species and have included bats, ferrets, and voles.

To get a sense for how different animals are used in academic research, an Internet search for the name of the college or university and the scientific name of animal — which you can find in the inspection reports  may result in links to research papers published by students or faculty describing experiments conducted using that particular animal.

University of New Hampshire

Inspection reports for the University of New Hampshire from 2014 through 2019 indicate no violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

The table below shows how many animals UNH has used for research in recent years. Details, including whether the animals experienced pain, can be found in the individual annual reports (accessible from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service page). In these reports,  “All Other Animals” are listed by species and have included shrews, bats, and horses.

Dissection in Schools

For many of us, passing high school biology meant having to dissect a frog, fetal pig, or other unfortunate animal. Happily, this is no longer a requirement in many schools.

Today, 22 states — including New Hampshire — have “Dissection Choice” policies. This means that teachers have to provide students with humane alternatives to animal dissection.

If you are a student, or the parent of a student, be aware that pupils K-12 can opt to use an alternative rather than dissect an animal. Many realistic (even superior) alternatives to dissecting animals exist. So talk to your teacher and share the good news.

Where to Find Humane Alternatives

  • The Science Bank — A free lending library of humane science products, from realistic models to the latest dissection software programs.
  • Animallearn — The educational division of the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS), working to end the harmful use of animals in education.

What You Can Do

  • Shop cruelty free. Avoid products that may have been tested on animals. Check the Leaping Bunny Approved Brands and/or download the Cruelty-Free App to make sure the household, cleaning, and personal care products you purchase are not tested on animals.
  • Talk about dissection choice. If you are a student, parent, or teacher, share the good news about New Hampshire’s “Dissection Choice” policy for pupils K-12.
  • Follow national organizations working on legislation to end testing. Find out what bills they are working on and ask your lawmakers to support those initiatives.  
  • Become an organ donor. Researchers who conduct transplantation experiments will turn to animal organs when there is a shortage of human organs.
  • Pressure your school or alma mater. If you have ties to a college or university that engages in animal experimentation, let administrators know that you disapprove and consider withholding donations.