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Animals and Society

Putting the Numbers into Perspective

US scientists use approximately 25-26 million animals in research each year, of which around 95% of those are mice and rats. Speaking of Research offers a graph breakdown of various species used in 2010.

  • 9 billion chickens and 26 billion pounds of beef are consumed each year.
  • We use fewer animals in research than the number of ducks eaten per year in this country.
  • Motorists kill 365 million animals on the road with their vehicles each year. In other words, 1 million animals per day are killed by vehicles (That total is over 14 times the amount used in research each year).
  • Hunters kill 200 million animals each year for food (over 7 times the amount used in research).
  • An estimated 7 million unwanted companion animals are euthanized in shelters each year.


The chart below, courtesy of NWABR, helps to put the numbers into perspective.



Animals Euthanized in Shelters

An estimated 3-4 million dogs and cats alone are euthanized in animal shelters each year because they are senselessly abandoned by their owners. About 65,000 dogs and 22,000 cats are used in the US for research each year. That is a total of 87,000 dogs and cats used in research to help advance scientific knowledge, and to aid in the development of new medical treatments for humans and animals. That's 3,000,000 vs 87,000. That is inconvenience and irresponsibility versus the advancement of medical knowledge and treatments.

Note: Drug Monkey wrote a great article on the perspective of animals used in research. It noted that the number of longer-lived species, such as dogs, cats, and primates used in research, tends to be overestimated on a yearly basis because the same dog will be studied over many years. However, that same dog will be counted as a “new dog" each year when total species numbers are tallied. The article states:

And remember, for the longer-lived species such as dogs or nonhuman primates, the vast majority of studies use them across multi-year and even multi-decade intervals. So across time the comparison of the yearly use of, say dogs versus mice, tends to overestimate the dogs on a per-individual basis.

Source: Drug Monkey


Wild Animals Killed by Domestic Cats

report in Nature published in January of 2013 suggests that free-ranging domestic cats are responsible for up to 20.7 billion small animal deaths every year. This is 250-800 times the number of animals used each year in the US for medical research. The article states:

Here we conduct a systematic review and quantitatively estimate mortality caused by cats in the United States. We estimate that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.3 - 4.0 billion birds and 6.3 - 22.3 billion mammals annually. Un-owned cats, as opposed to owned pets, cause the majority of this mortality. Our findings suggest that free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals.



Millions of rats and mice are killed by animal exterminators because people consider them to be pests when they enter their homes and other buildings. People do not consider these rats and mice to have any rights and people believe they should be disposed of.

According to a 2009 poll by the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR), 87% of people are in favor of killing mice and rats that are in their house; however, 54% of people said they believe a laboratory mouse or rat that is purpose bred for research should have rights equivalent to that of a human being.