As veterinarians, we’re passionate about animal health and welfare. Scientific research—including research using animals—is key to improving animal health and welfare, which is why we have reached out to policymakers about the importance of biomedical research. Biomedical research conducted in animals opens doors to medical discoveries that save lives and decrease suffering in animals and humans alike. For instance, animal research is important to finding cures for cancers like osteosarcoma, which impact both humans and animals.
Emotionally evocative campaigns have long been used to oppose the use of animals in biomedical research. More recently, some of the same advocacy groups that are behind these campaigns have suggested that biomedical research is not financially prudent. To set the record straight, the AVMA recently sent letters to key policymakers informing them of the continued importance of animal models for biomedical research.
The letters—which went to the Director of the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee—informed policymakers of the many benefits of biomedical research for both animals and humans. The letters also emphasized the AVMA’s ongoing close collaboration with federal agencies to ensure that the welfare of animals used in that research is protected.
Approximately 1,000 veterinarians at research institutions throughout the country are committed to protecting the welfare of animals used for research. Most of these individuals have completed several years of additional training beyond their veterinary degrees to become board-certified by the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine and/or the American College of Animal Welfare.
The AVMA encourages researchers to use model systems rather than animals when those alternatives exist. We also believe strongly that we should strive toward a future when computer simulations or tissue grown in labs can be used to produce significant and meaningful advances in health care. But we have not reached that future yet—right now, it is imperative to animal and human health that we continue to pursue biomedical research using animal models.
The AVMA will continue to work with lawmakers to educate them on the importance of biomedical research, including biomedical research that requires the use of animal models. We will also actively work to protect the welfare of the animals used for this research and will encourage the development and use of alternatives whenever possible. You may read our policy on the use of animals in research on our website.