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Statement of the School of Veterinary Medicine on its keeping of test dogs (2024-06-13)

At the School of Veterinary Medicine at Freie Universität Berlin, all animal experiments are used either for veterinary teaching and training or for research. As responsible veterinarians, it is our obligation to train students of Veterinary Medicine on animals. Furthermore, it is one of our tasks to research animal diseases in the interests of animal welfare, animal protection and, last but not least, the One Health concept and to optimize treatment and control options in this regard. The 3R concept (3R stands for replace, reduce, refine) is an ethical obligation to avoid, reduce and refine the use of animals in research and teaching. Animal experiments are only carried out if no alternatives are available, which is also one of the legal requirements for such studies. It goes without saying that all animal experimentation projects are and have been duly applied for and approved beforehand; in some cases, these are also legally required experiments. All studies are also subject to ongoing monitoring by the relevant authorities.

All of the above-mentioned facts also apply to the keeping of dogs currently discussed in the media, which specifically contributes to improving the protection of animals and humans from infectious diseases. Research in this area is urgently needed in view of the current rapidly changing epidemiological conditions of several serious infectious diseases and also serves to keep all dogs living here healthy.

The dogs we keep are always looked after with the utmost care and a great deal of attention and love by the employees involved and trained for this purpose. In addition, we have established an exemplary training and activity program that provides cognitive enrichment for the animals. At the end of the trials, the animals are usually given to private owners; there is even a waiting list and there have never been any complaints from the new owners.

The frequent barking of the beagles is by no means an indication of suffering or distress, but rather of species-appropriate and normal communication behavior, which on the contrary signals well-being and joy of life.