Animal lovers rally to fight testing bill

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 31/07/2013
Animal testing protest
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ

JUST SAY NO: Many protestors believe animal testing isn't necessary to determine whether or not legal highs are safe.

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About 100 people, many accompanied by their beloved pooches, rallied in Invercargill yesterday to protest against the Government's decision to allow legal highs to be tested on animals.

The march in Invercargill was part of a nationwide campaign to highlight what protesters and animal lovers described as an unnecessary and cruel practice.

Protests against the Psychoactive Substances Bill were organised for noon in centres from Kerikeri to Invercargill.

The bill aims to regulate the sale of products such as party pills and synthetic cannabis.

However, experts say that determining whether the legal highs can be sold will inevitably involve some animal testing

Protesters carrying placards and leading their dogs on leashes marched down Dee St past Invercargill MP Eric Roy's office and to Wachner Place.

Debs Townshend and Kerri-Anne Moore, who helped organise the event, said animals should not be used to test substances simply so people could get high.

"There is nothing good about legal highs and testing on animals won't prove they are safe," Mrs Townshend said.

Testing results would not be conclusive, she said.

Labour Party member and former Invercargill MP Lesley Soper said she opposed the decision to allow the testing of legal highs on animals because there were plenty of alternatives.

There was no justification for the animal testing, especially over recreational drugs, a practice outlawed in Britain, she said.

Mr Roy, speaking from Wellington, said it was a complex issue.

"I am unhappy but I am more unhappy about the fact our young people have been addling their brains with stuff that hasn't been properly tested," he said.

"The bottom line is I'm not comfortable [about testing on animals] but is there another option?"

Mr Roy said the law would require every other alternative to be explored before animals were actually used for testing.

"To my knowledge, the animals used in any testing would be laboratory rats and mice. No-one wants to see a puppy tested on but it is an area I would like to see some better solutions for."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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