Position Statement on Animals Used in Testing - BC SPCA
Search by
postal code:
Search our site:

Animal Helpline:


For all other calls and inquiries
see our contact details.

Find a BC SPCA location in your area:

Position Statement on Animals Used in Testing

The BC SPCA opposes the use of live animals and their tissues for the testing of inessential substances, such as cosmetics, household cleaning products, cigarettes, and alcoholic beverages, and seeks to reduce animal testing in biomedical and other scientific research (e.g., therapeutic medications, vaccines, food) which is currently a legal requirement in Canada.

The BC SPCA recognizes that the use of live animals to test cosmetics has been banned in the European Union and India, and encourages the ban of such testing in Canada. The BC SPCA supports the development and use of non-animal alternatives for all types of testing, and believes that testing companies have a responsibility to aid in the development of non-animal alternatives.

Approved by the Board of Directors – September 2015

(replaces Animals in Research, January 2000)


Food items, medical equipment, pharmaceutical products (medicines, vaccines, etc.), chemicals, radiation emitting devices, cosmetics and pesticides are legally required to meet the safety obligations set out by Health Canada. Such efficacy and safety testing often involves the use of animals. Public and private institutions conduct such testing, however, only government funded institutions require oversight from the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC). The BC SPCA encourages all private institutions to become participants in the CCAC oversight program.

The BC SPCA believes that all use of animals (live and tissues) in testing should be subject to ethical review and post-approval monitoring, and that the animals:

  • when kept in confinement, be treated such that their physical and behavioural needs are met in accordance with the Five Freedoms;
  • be specifically bred for experimental purposes to make animals more genetically similar and to reduce the number needed to achieve statistically significant results;
  • be provided with adequate anaesthesia and analgesia agents, and prompt medical treatment by a trained professional to minimize suffering or discomfort whenever they demonstrate symptoms of disease or injury; and,
  • be euthanized by a trained professional without delay when symptoms do not respond to medical treatment or when suffering from untreatable conditions.

In addition, appropriate training should be provided to all persons involved in handling animals.

Background updated – September 2015


Animal: A living being belonging to the kingdom Animalia Anaesthesia: Temporary insensitivity to pain or loss of consciousness, especially as artificially induced by administration of gases or injectable drugs.

Analgesia: The inability to feel pain, without the loss of consciousness, especially as artificially induced by administration of gases or injectable drugs.

Five Freedoms: A concept first developed in 1965 by The Brambell Committee, formed by the UK government to examine the conditions on commercial farms. Now internationally recognized, the Five Freedoms are considered applicable to all animals.

The BC SPCA’s Five Freedoms (adapted from the original list) are:

  1. 1Freedom from hunger and thirst;
  2. Freedom from pain, injury and disease;
  3. Freedom from distress;
  4. Freedom from discomfort;
  5. Freedom to express behaviours that promote well-being.

The BC SPCA’s Five Freedoms form the basis of the Society’s Charter and describe conditions that must be fulfilled in order to prevent the suffering of all animals in human care. The Society acknowledges that these freedoms are not enforceable and that absolute provision of these freedoms may not be possible, but strongly encourages all animal guardians to strive to provide them.

Efficacy testing: Testing a product or drug to see how well it works.

Safety testing: Testing a product or drug to ensure that it causes no toxic or harmful effects.