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Vivisection at Massey University

Vivisection at Massey University Produced by the National Anti Vivisection Campaign

Massey University is one of the main vivisection centres in the country and some staff members hold influential positions in the animal welfare regulatory bodies. Massey Professor David Mellor is chairman of the Governments National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, and Senior Lecturer Kathleen Parton, sits on the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee, responsible for overseeing all animal research in New Zealand.

Massey University used 32140 animals in experiments during 2003. This is a big increase on previous years (in 2002 the total was 23608, in 2001 it was 18714).

Massey is the only University that reported using both cats and dogs in experiments. Other species used included rabbits, guinea pigs horses, sheep, cattle, mice and rats. Most of the cats were used in non lethal teaching and veterinary research, but three were killed. 124 dogs were killed during the research, which was mostly for veterinary purposes. 14 dogs were used in commercial research. No other details are available, but NAVC does have some information obtained under the Official Information Act in 2002, concerning an experiment in which 7 dogs were subjected to "severe suffering" in a commercial experiment designed to test a new type of hip replacement product.

Massey University advertises its Animal Health Services Centre (AHSC) as New Zealands premier contract animal research centre. The NAVC claims this means the AHSC will conduct animal tests for 'anybody who has the money'. The centre was established in 1986 and in the last five years an increasing amount of contract research has also been undertaken for overseas organisations. The AHSC provides the commercial farming and animal exploitation industries with access to the expertise and extensive animal research resources at Massey. The main areas of research offered by the centre relate to toxicity, 'safety' and residue determinations.

The Centre has a staff of 24, and is headed by Allen Goldenthal, a Canadian who describes himself as an 'in vivo' specialist. Goldenthal was involved in toxicity testing on animals at various overseas pharmaceutical companies before he became director of the AHSC.

The AHSC website boasts that they have access to the university's small animal (rabbits, rodents etc) breeding unit, a small dog colony, and a medium size cat colony. The AHSC advertises itself as offering "competitive pricing for academic research projects" and able to assist with "all your animal manipulation requirements".

Massey Professor David Mellor is Chair of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) and is the governments most senior advisor on animal welfare issues. The National Anti Vivisection Campaign says Mr Mellor is also a vivisector with a particular interest in pain and stress experiments on animals.

NAVC Spokesperson Mark Eden says "Last year we requested details of all applications for animal experiments made by Professor Mellor since 2001. The University refused our request claiming it was acting to protect Professor Mellors privacy".

"The experiments carried out by Mellor and his colleagues aim to measure the suffering and stress that sheep and cattle go through as a part of normal farming operations. If no addition suffering was caused by these experiments, it could be argued that they would be advancing the cause of animal welfare by doing this research. Unfortunately for the animals involved, these experiments often involve more pain and suffering for animals than normal farm conditions".

"In March 2002, an experiment examined the response of calves to different methods of castration (ring, band, surgical, or clamp) with or without local anaesthetic. All methods of castration caused significant pain and distress. Mr Mellor and his co researchers discovered that local anaesthetic reduced the pain and distress caused by castration. One wonders why several calves had to go through this painful procedure to record what seems to be a very obvious result".

"Mellor and his team have also investigated the response of lamb to castration and tail docking, and carried out experiments where several different methods of dehorning cattle were compared" said Mr Eden.

The National Anti Vivisection Campaign is the only organisation in New Zealand focusing solely on actively campaigning for the abolition of vivisection. NAVC opposes all harmful research on animals, on ethical and scientific grounds.

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