Dogs to pay for pills?
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.
Party animal: Spencer the beagle found a happy ending with Chris Gibbons and Barbara Venville after being rescued from a research laboratory.