Each year the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), through its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), compiles figures reported by research institutions concerning the number of animals they have used during that year. However, the data collected by the USDA are incomplete for several reasons:
If one compares the USDA reports from different years, it is possible to mistakenly conclude that the total number of animals used each year is going up and down erratically. For example, the total went from 1.6 million in 1990 to 2.1 million in 1992 and then back down to below 1.3 million by 1997, and even lower last year.
But the number of animals reported depends on the different species counted that year and the total number of facilities reporting. In mid-1990, farm animals were added to the report, which accounted for much of the apparent increase in total animals used over the following two years. Such reclassification of animals, along with inconsistency in reporting, makes it difficult to compare total numbers from one year to the next.
The first chart below compares the most recent USDA numbers, for FY 1998, with the same figures 20 and 10 years ago. The second chart compares FY 1998 figures with the three previous years.
|FY||Dogs||Cats||Primates||Guinea Pigs||Hamsters||Rabbits||Farm Animal1||Other Animals2||Total|
|FY||Dogs||Cats||Primates||Guinea Pigs||Hamsters||Rabbits||Farm Animal||Other Animals||Total|
1) Traditional farm animals used for research purposes have been reported only since 1990
2) This category includes other covered species not specifically stated in the regulations, such as bears, armadillos, squirrels, wild rodents, etc. It does not include noncovered species, such as rats and mice bred for laboratory use, frogs, lizards, birds, etc.