More than 95,000 people have signed a petition calling for a change in the law which will include laboratory animals in the Animal Welfare Act.
The petition just needs a few more thousand signatures to hit 100,000, at which point it will be considered for debate in Parliament.
The Animal Welfare Act currently prevents “unnecessary suffering” to protected animals, which includes any animal looked after by humans as well as all wild animals.
However, the Act doesn’t apply to animals used for “scientific or educational purposes”.
Animals are currently used to test things like the development of medicine and vaccines, studying how animal and human bodies work, and to test chemicals for their possible impact on human health or the environment.
According to the RSPCA, it’s estimated that over 100 million animals are used for testing across the world every year.
The petition page reads: “A recent exposé showed harrowing footage of the factory farming of laboratory dogs in the UK. Experiments on such dogs, and other animals, are today widely reported to be entirely failing the search for human treatments and cures.
“Current science from multiple fields proves that animal-based research and testing is not viable. The Government should therefore change the law to include laboratory animals under the protection of the Animal Welfare Act, to prevent their unnecessary suffering.”
The campaign was set up by Ricky Gervais and actor Peter Egan, along with ‘Beagle Ambassador” Scarlett, a dog who was rescued from a lab after being tested on for two years. Beagles are a breed commonly chosen for animal testing due to their docile nature.
Read more: Ricky Gervais' tweets about dogs are really quite beautiful
The petition was launched after footage was released showing the treatment of dogs at an animal testing laboratory. In the video, the dogs can be heard whimpering as they are loaded onto a lorry in small cages.
The footage then goes on to show a dog being fed an unknown substance through a tube, and bins labelled ‘dogs’ being wheeled out of the laboratory.
“It’s heartbreaking to hear these puppies crying out for mercy and help,” comedian Ricky said of the footage. “We need an immediate ban on this shocking animal cruelty.”
The Government previously responded to the petition in August this year, saying: “The use of animals in scientific research remains a vital tool in improving our understanding of how biological systems work both in health and disease.”
They also argued that the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which means that anyone who wants to use animals for testing purposes must be licensed and get authorisation from the Home Office, is enough to protect affected animals.
But campaigners are calling on the Government to carry out a public scientific hearing to ban experiments on animals.
An open letter by For Life On Earth, a campaign fighting against animal testing, which calls for the hearing to take place was signed by several famous supporters including Chris Packham, Paul O’Grady, and Dr Jane Goodall. So far, over 80 MPs have supported the motion.