FEB 04, 2016 07:30 AM PST

Keynote: A good death? Are our 'euthanasia' methods for lab animals actually humane?

  • Senior Scientific Programme Manager, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare and the Humane Slaughter Association

      Huw Golledge is Senior Scientific Programme Manager at the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) and the Humane Slaughter Association (HSA). Trained as a neuroscientist, Dr Golledge was formerly an animal welfare researcher at Newcastle University, where he had specific research interests in assessing the welfare impacts of anaesthesia and humane killing techniques for rodents. Dr Golledge is also a member of the UK’s Animals in Science Committee which provides advice to the Government on the use of animals in research and testing.


    The fate of all but a very few laboratory animals is to be killed at the end of their experimental lives. There is a moral responsibility to give the animals used in science a humane death by choosing the most humane killing technique; but do we know which ‘euthanasia’ techniques actually give animals a good death?

    In this talk I will examine the scientific evidence concerning the humaneness of various killing techniques. Understanding the welfare of animals at the time of killing is extraordinarily difficult, yet progress has been made, which has begun to give us important clues about the welfare impact of killing techniques for the most commonly used lab species (rats, mice and zebrafish). In many cases it appears that some of the most commonly used methods do not appear to be humane and therefore I argue that they should be included as harms in the harm/benefit analysis which should be performed before the decision is made to use animals.

    I will also argue that more research is needed, both to better understand the welfare impacts of current killing methods and, most importantly, to develop methods that are genuinely humane.

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