Animal lives saved
The pet donor card is helping to reduce the number of animals used for laboratory testing. Currently, all small domestic animals used for anatomy courses at Utrecht University are deceased pets whose remains have been donated by their owners.
Several years ago, the Dutch Society for the Replacement of Animal Testing (Stichting Proefdiervrij) introduced the pet donor card. A pet owner can use this card to record permission for the pet’s body to be used for science after its death. A network of nearly thirty veterinarians is collaborating on this project, and a number of universities make use of the animals made available through the pet donor card. At Utrecht University, nearly 350 animals a year are procured this way.
The use of deceased pets in anatomy practical labs has meant that fewer lab animals – those bred for this purpose – were needed. Additionally, a reduction in the number of lab animals used for teaching about transplantation is possible through the use of plastination.
The donation of pets to veterinary science is not unique to the Netherlands: other countries also have such programmes in place. Many of those programmes, however, are more specialised for providing tissues for transplantation.