Throughout 2022, the NSPCAs Animal Ethics Unit successfully halted a number of research studies involving the use of animals after finding that the welfare of those animals had been compromised. Although there is no authority in South Africa that can prohibit animal testing altogether, the NSPCA does have the authority and power to enforce the Animals Protection Act no 71 of 1962 which protects ALL animals from cruelty. As such, a number of animal research facilities have not been able to continue with their research until the NSPCA’s welfare concerns have been adequately addressed.
One of the biggest issues noted by the NSPCA, across a number of animal research facilities, is procurement- which ultimately results in animals suffering. Often, animals have been found without access to suitable feed, veterinary attention, or medication as a result of ineffective procurement systems at these facilities.
The conditions under which any animal is kept is of vital importance when it comes to the welfare of the animal. In fact, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has recognized this and included it in their guide stating that, ‘Proper housing and management of animal facilities are essential to animal well-being, to the quality of research data and teaching or testing programs in which animals are used, and to the health and safety of personnel.’
Facilities such as Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP), University of Fort Hare, University of Limpopo, and Agricultural Research Council Irene were found to have animal welfare concerns which have been addressed by the NSPCA. These concerns include lack of medication, feed, veterinary treatment, inadequate housing facilities, etc, and until these concerns have been adequately addressed, no further research will be conducted.
The National Council of SPCAs is currently the only animal welfare organisation in South Africa that forms part of Animal Research Ethics Committees to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare for these animals. The NSPCA frequently conducts inspections at facilities that make use of animals for research purposes and will never turn a blind eye to an animal that is suffering.