Lab Animal Numbers Fall Again in 2017
10 Dec 2018

The number of protected animals used in scientific research has declined again in 2017, according to statistics posted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The number of cats, dogs, hamsters, guinea pigs, nonhuman primates, rabbits, and other animals protected by the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is down to 792,168, a 3 percent decrease compared to 2016 statistics.

The earliest figures available are from 2008, when 999,078 of the protected species were used in experiments, according to the group.

Intriguingly, although the overall number of protected animals were down, there were increases seen in the number of cats, dogs, guinea pigs, nonhuman primates, pigs, rabbits, and sheep reported in 2017.

The largest increase was in the number of cats used. There was a 22 percent increase over the year before, according to the statistics.

All other covered Cats Dogs Guinea Pigs Hamsters Nonhuman primate Other farm animals Pig Rabbits Sheep Total
2016 161,467 14,898 60,979 183,237 102,633 71,188 20,587 50,226 139,391 12,196 820,812
2017 109,599 18,146 64,707 191,766 98,576 75,825 22,643 51,000 145,841 14,045 792,168
% Change -32% 22% 6% 5% -4% 7% 10% 2% 5% 15% -3%


The AWA establishes requirements concerning the transportation, sale, and handling of certain animals that are exhibited to the public, sold for use as pets, used in research, or transported commercially.

The AWA does not cover the most commonly used laboratory animals, mice and rats.