Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (594, 595)

Clare Daly

Question:

594. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health the number of times his Department authorised concussion and-or percussive blow to the head as a permitted method of euthanasia for new-born puppies, kitten, fox cubs and or ferret kits, between 2002 and 1 January 2013; if it occurred without explicit authorisation, and the number of young animals that were killed by this method. [12491/13]

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Clare Daly

Question:

595. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health his position in relation to concussion and or percussive blow to the head as a humane method of killing new-born puppies, kitten, fox cubs and or ferret kits; his policy and or that of the Irish Medicines Board on the use of this killing method under SI 543 European Union (Protection of Animals used for Scinetific Purposes) Regulations 2012. [12492/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 594 and 595 together.

The Deputy's first question relates to the European Communities (Amendment of Cruelty to Animals Act 1876) Regulations 2002 which were revoked by the European Union (Protection of Animals Used for Scientific Purposes) Regulations 2012. These revised Regulations, which transposed Directive 2010/63/EU on the Protection of Animals Used for Scientific Purposes, came into operation on 1 January 2013 and considerably strengthened the protection of animals still needed for research and safety testing. They also play a significant role in terms of minimising the number of animals used and require that alternatives to animal testing be utilised whenever possible.

The 2002 Regulations transposed Directive 86/609/EEC into Irish law. Under these Regulations, it was a requirement that where an animal was killed, it was done by a humane method. In this context "humane method" is defined as "the killing of the animal with the minimum of physical and mental suffering, depending on the species". From 2007 onwards account was taken of Commission Recommendation (2007/526/EU) on guidelines for the accommodation and care of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes. This Recommendation set out requirements in relation to humane killing in respect of all species and, where appropriate, more specific requirements were outlined in relation to certain species.

Individual statistical information in relation to the specific humane methods of killing for individual projects was not a requirement under Directive 86/609/EEC and was not, therefore, included in the consequential transposing Regulations. My Department is not aware of any method of killing done as part of a scientific experiment which was conducted without explicit authorisation. If the Deputy is in possession of information that might indicate that this is the case, I would urge you to provide such information to the IMB, which is the Competent Authority in this area.

The new legislation, now in force, sets out a comprehensive range of measures that must be complied with in relation to methods of killing. It requires that where an animal (used or intended to be used in a procedure, or bred specifically so that their organs or tissues may be used for scientific purposes) is killed, the person responsible for the killing shall ensure that the method of killing with the minimum pain, suffering and distress is used, and the animal is killed by a competent person in the establishment of the breeder, supplier or user, as appropriate. Additionally it requires that in the case of the killing of an animal covered by Annex IV to the Directive, the breeder, supplier or user, or other person responsible, shall ensure that the appropriate method of killing as set out in that Annex is used.

The IMB believes that it would be unlikely that newborn puppies or kittens would have been euthanised by way of the methods outlined in the Deputy's question. Any such euthanasia would more likely have been carried out by injection of a lethal dose of barbiturate (i.e. anaesthetic overdose). The IMB policy in relation to the euthanasia of animals used for scientific purposes in establishments that have been authorised in accordance with EU Directive 2010/63/EU is that only those methods that are set out in the Directive should be used. In accordance with Regulation 8(1) of SI No 543 of 2012, which came into effect on 1 January 2013, the method for euthanasia of animals that is used shall be the method where the minimum pain, suffering and distress is experienced.