What is a 'Procedure'?
The term ‘procedure’ refers to any act that may cause an animal a level of pain, suffering or distress equivalent to or greater than the introduction of a hypodermic needle.
The Home Office licenses all scientific procedures in the UK, under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act of 1986. It is illegal to conduct any scientific procedures on an animal protected by the law. All living vertebrates (any animal with a spine) are covered by this law. This includes every animal from mice and fish, to monkeys and elephants. The law also covers living cephalopods: squid, cuttlefish and octopuses.
Once a year the Home Office release the numbers of procedures that have been licensed for the previous year. In 2014, 3.87 million scientific procedures were carried out using animals in the UK.
A procedure can be as mild as an injection, or as severe as an organ transplant. Breeding a genetically modified animal is also classed as a procedure, as genetic changes to the normal appearance or ‘phenotype’ of an animal may cause suffering. In 2014, 50% of all procedures involved the birth of a genetically modified mouse. Procedures can be part of animal husbandry within a laboratory, as well as being part of scientific experiments. All experiments involve procedures, but not all procedures are experiments.
Click here for more examples of procedures.