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Calls to improve welfare of fish used in research
Zebrafish are now the second most commonly used lab animal in the country.
Charity warns lab fish welfare is ‘years behind’ mammals 

The RSPCA is calling for greater action to reduce the use and suffering of fish in scientific research, as recent figures suggest over half a million fish were used in experiments in 2017.

While rats, mice, dogs and monkeys are thought of as more common research animals, the charity is raising awareness of the rising number of fish being used for testing and research.

In the UK, fish were used in 16 per cent of experimental procedures in 2017, including as models for disease, to study how embryos develop, or to produce genetically altered animals. Zebrafish are now the second most commonly used lab animal in the country.

Dr Penny Hawkins, head of the RSPCA’s research animals department said: “Fish use in research and testing is becoming ever more commonplace, but sadly they are years behind mammals when it comes to being provided with an interesting environment, adequate pain relief and effective welfare assessment.”

This is despite evidence to suggest that fish have advanced cognitive abilities, including logical reasoning, counting and the ability to recognise individual human faces. One species, the cleaner wrasse, has even been found to outperform chimpanzees in a learning task, and also passed the ‘mirror test’, which suggests self awareness.

However, Dr Hawkins said fish are still sometimes seen as presenting less of an ethical and animal welfare issue than other animals in research.

“Unbelievably, fishes are sometimes described as ‘replacement alternatives’,” she added.

The charity is calling for greater consideration for lab fish when it comes to reducing suffering, animal welfare and replacing with humane alternatives.

Dr Hawkins said: “As fish use has risen, people within the scientific community are increasingly challenging assumptions about fishes being ‘lower’ animals, and pointing out that the ethical and animal welfare issues are not somehow solved by using fish instead of mammals.

“The RSPCA completely agrees, and wants to see vastly increased efforts being made to reduce the use and suffering of all animals in research, regardless of whether they have fur, feathers or fins.”

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Registrations open for overseas veterinary professionals course

News Story 1
 Registrations are now open for the RCVS CPD course for overseas veterinary professionals, which covers an introduction to the UK veterinary professions.

The course is aimed at overseas-qualified veterinary surgeons and nurses during their first two years of working in the UK, in addition to those considering working here. It provides graduates with the key information and skills required to practice in the UK, as well as helping them understand their legal duties as veterinary professionals.

For more information and to book your place please click here. The course will be held at Belgravia House, London, on Wednesday 12 June.  

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News Shorts
New online guides provide advice for dog owners

A series of downloadable leaflets for dog owners have been produced by veterinary charity PetSavers in a bid to reduce the temptation to seek advice online.

The series entitled ‘My Dog’s Got’ offers practical information on an array of topics, including ‘My dog has dental disease,’ ‘My dog has itchy skin,’ and My dog has kidney disease.’

The new guides can be downloaded here. Printed versions of the new guides can be ordered by veterinary practices in exchange for a donation to PetSavers.