Dogs to pay for pills?

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By DANIELLE STREET

THE own­ers of a dog that was res­cued from a re­search lab want peo­ple to take a stand against the pro­posed test­ing of party pills on an­i­mals.

Bar­bara Venville and Chris Gib­bons say be­com­ing ‘‘par­ents’’ of Spencer the bea­gle brought their at­ten­tion to the plight of an­i­mals used in test­ing.

‘‘You know that glob­ally it hap­pens and you are aware of it but get­ting Spencer was very much an eye-opener,’’ Ms Venville says.

The cou­ple de­cided to adopt the friendly pooch last year af­ter see­ing a story about a pack of dogs that were lib­er­ated from a caged life at the Val­ley An­i­mal Re­search Cen­tre, in Manawatu, by an­i­mal wel­fare or­gan­i­sa­tion Help­ing You Help An­i­mals.

They had no in­for­ma­tion on the dog’s back­ground but say Spencer was es­pe­cially ner­vous and averse to men when he first joined them.

‘‘I was work­ing in a prison where I car­ried a key chain, and he shied right away from the chains and keys, he says.

‘‘He would shud­der, I’m talk­ing about shak­ing,’’ Mr Gib­bons says.

‘‘It took about three months for him to come around to me trust-wise. Now he is my best mate,’’ he says.

The cou­ple is con­cerned about the fate of more dogs that could be sub­jected to test­ing un­der the Psy­choac­tive Sub­stances Bill, which is cur­rently be­fore Par­lia­ment.

The bill will al­low for tri­alling con­tro­ver­sial so-called le­gal highs be­fore they can go on sale to the pub­lic.

The Min­istry of Health is con­sid­er­ing ex­ten­sive test­ing on an­i­mals.

Bea­gles are com­monly used in lab­o­ra­tory test­ing be­cause of their com­pli­ant na­ture. The Green Party, SPCA, SAFE and the An­tiVivi­sec­tion So­ci­ety led a pe­ti­tion call­ing for the bill to pro­hibit an­i­mal test­ing.

The pe­ti­tion gained an im­pres­sive 63,000 sig­na­tures in just six weeks and was pre­sented to Par­lia­ment on May 21.

Ms Venville was un­able to join the ac­tion in the cap­i­tal and or­gan­ised a rally at Corn­wall Park in Green­lane that drew about 50 peo­ple and ‘‘lots of dogs’’ from as far afield as Wark­worth and Waihi.

‘‘I think one of the rea­sons the pub­lic is so up in arms about the Psy­choac­tive Sub­stances Bill is that it’s not like this is test­ing drugs on an­i­mals for a can­cer cure. This is just for peo­ple to have recre­ational highs for plea­sure,’’ Ms Venville says.

The cou­ple would like peo­ple to keep ac­tively voic­ing their con­cerns against an­i­mal test­ing in New Zealand.

‘‘If we stop talk­ing about it it’s just go­ing to go un­der the ta­ble,’’ Ms Venville says.

Ear­lier this month the Min­istry of Health named an ex­pert ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee to set the safety test­ing regime for le­gal highs un­der the in­com­ing bill.

SPCA ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Bob Ker­ridge has been in­cluded on the com­mit­tee.

‘‘I am very happy with the make-up of the com­mit­tee,’’ Mr Ker­ridge says.

‘‘There is a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise, across clin­i­cal and le­gal ar­eas, but also real bal­ance with the pres­ence of renowned an­i­mal wel­fare au­thor­ity.’’

The leg­is­la­tion is set to be­come law by July and will force man­u­fac­tur­ers of syn­thetic highs to prove that their prod­ucts are safe be­fore they can be sold.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers will be re­spon­si­ble for pay­ing for the clin­i­cal test­ing pro­ce­dures.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Party an­i­mal: Spencer the bea­gle found a happy end­ing with Chris Gib­bons and Bar­bara Venville af­ter be­ing res­cued from a re­search lab­o­ra­tory.

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