Greyhounds suffocated then revived in medical experiments

Nearly 6000 dogs are used in Australian medical experiments each year.  (iStock)
Nearly 6000 dogs are used in Australian medical experiments each year. (iStock)

The plight of greyhounds in Australia has been exposed again, after Monash University researchers published a paper detailing their medical experimentation on the animals.

Twelve greyhounds were chemically restrained before being suffocated. Their hearts were cut out, stored for four hours, and transplanted. The dogs were then revived and monitored - only to be killed.

Humane Research Australia chief executive Helen Marston has attacked the greyhounds' treatment - and the use of tax dollars to pay for it.

"People believe these things happened a long time ago or somewhere overseas, but these experiments are happening right here right now, under our noses," she said.

"Quite a lot of them are paid for with our tax dollars."

The greyhounds are by-products of the racing industry. Each year more than 6500 dogs are bred - the majority of which are unwanted. They are added to the list of leftover greyhounds - the old, the weak and the sick.

Some of them are rehomed. But most of them will be put down, or provided to researchers to be used in medical experimentation.

"The researchers themselves have previously conducted human studies, so it is extremely difficult to comprehend why they would conduct studies utilising hearts of a completely different species, and why the project proposal was approved by the (Alfred's) animal ethics committee," Humane Research Australia says in a case study report.

This is not the first time the issue of ethical treatment of dogs in medicine has been raised.

The University of Melbourne's Dental School has admitted using live greyhounds for dental surgery. The dogs had their teeth removed and replaced with implants before being killed.

In another experiment, screws were drilled into the dog's skulls and electrodes inserted into their brains.

Melbourne University has defended its policy of operating on greyhounds, saying "the university actively seeks techniques that totally or partially replace the use of animals in research wherever possible, and strongly believes that research using animals may only proceed if it is justifiable research for which there is no non-animal alternative".

This is no consolation for animal lovers, who fear that without further protections for greyhounds, our best friends will continue to suffer for science.