SPCA New Zealand
Advice & welfare

The 3Rs: Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement

Animals in Research, Testing and Teaching

SPCA recognises the internationally accepted ethical principles for the replacement, reduction, or refinement for the use of animals in research, testing, and teaching (the “3 Rs”). While our organisation supports efforts to refine and reduce the use of animals in research and testing, SPCA is committed to and advocates for animals to be replaced in research, testing, and teaching by non-animal alternatives.

SPCA advocates for the replacement of animals in research, testing, and teaching with non-animal alternatives including cell, tissue, and organ cultures, human tissue or human volunteers, or ethically-sourced animal cadavers, tissues, or organs. Additional reliable non-animal alternatives include interactive computer-assisted learning technologies, computer modelling, and 3-D models such as mannequins.

SPCA supports the reduction of the number of animals used in research, testing, and teaching through robust scientific analysis, collaboration across research and regulatory sectors, and increased scrutiny of research design.

Reduction of animal use can be achieved through use of robust scientific design of protocols, mathematical models, sound statistical approaches such as power analyses, thorough review of the literature to support sample size calculations and identify related studies, pilot studies where needed, and data sharing.

Our organisation supports the publishing of all research results, including negative or inconclusive findings, to minimise unnecessary replication of experiments. SPCA supports efforts to improve the regulatory review processes so that international regulators are considered a trusted source of information, therefore, reducing the requirements to replicate use of animals in research and testing for regulatory approval processes.

SPCA advocates for procedural and environmental refinement to minimise welfare harms and promote positive welfare of animals used in research, testing, and teaching.

Refinement is essential for improving laboratory animal welfare in the short term. Refinement should address the physical, social, and mental needs of animals. Refinement includes use of anaesthesia, analgesia, minimising negative states such as fear, hunger, boredom, social isolation, and other forms of distress; use of low-stress, force-free handling and positive reinforcement training for voluntary participation in interactions; and promoting positive welfare through use of enrichment, appropriate social groupings, and species-specific housing that promotes natural behaviours.

(See Housing and Handling in RTT for more information)

SPCA advocates for increased funding, institutional support, and public acknowledgement of efforts to promote the 3Rs for animals used in research, testing, and teaching.

SPCA advocates for increased funding towards research and technological advancement of the principles of replacement, reduction, and refinement for animals used in research, testing, and teaching.

SPCA advocates for greater institutionalisation of the principles of the 3Rs with dedicated 3Rs staff to provide support to personnel, consistent and targeted 3Rs training of personnel involved in use of animals in research, testing, and teaching, and continuing education of the principles of the 3Rs.

(See Wildlife Tagging and Marking for more information)

(See Supply of Animals for more information)

(See Ethical Review in Animal Ethics Committees for more information)

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