The government of Pakistan has announced new animal testing reforms.
In a move that the Arab News described as “rare,” the government has banned live animal testing in vet schools and industrial complexes. The ban applies across the Islamabad Capital Territory.
Those who violate the ban will face a potential fine or even a jail sentence.
In viral videos, veterinary students were reportedly shown operating on live street dogs. This sparked outrage from activists, including those from the Animals Rescue and Adoption Islamabad and PETA.
The latter has since praised Pakistan’s “landmark reforms.” Vice president of the organization Shalin Gala said that they will “result in a shift to sophisticated, humane methods.”
Prior to the ban, PETA wrote letters to a number of veterinary schools across Pakistan. They also addressed the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training and the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination.
One letter reads: “Without a doubt, veterinary students need supervised hands-on experience with live animals. [It’s] an important aspect of their clinical training and preparation.”
“However, this training can be accomplished ethically without harming animals.”
Improving animal welfare in Pakistan
Salman Sufi is the head of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s Strategic Reforms Unit. He said that additional animal testing reforms would be made to an existing law.
Sufi and PETA will consult on what reforms are needed before they are introduced in the National Assembly’s next session. There, they will be up for debate and approval.
Sufi added that the government will encourage other provinces across Pakistan to follow suit on Islamabad’s animal testing ban and implement their own restrictions.
“PETA is delighted to have shared recommendations for improving veterinary training with Salman Sufi,” added Gala. “We look forward to our upcoming meeting with him to discuss further critical reforms in biomedical research and training. [It] will both spare animals’ lives and benefit patients.”