Oscar-winning actor Anna Paquin and British singer Leona Lewis have joined Cruelty Free International in urging governments worldwide to end the use of stray and shelter dogs in experiments.

Around the world, stray and shelter dogs are suffering in laboratories and educational facilities, where they are being used in experiments and for harmful teaching practices at human and veterinary medical schools.

An opinion poll carried out by YouGov on behalf of Cruelty Free International, shows that the issue raises strong public concern. In the UK, 72% of adults oppose the use of dogs in experiments. In America and Canada, where stray and shelter dogs are used in laboratories and educational institutions, over two thirds of adults surveyed agree that dogs who are found or given to animal shelters should not be sold to laboratories for experiments.

A new investigation carried out by Cruelty Free International has revealed that in Brazil, stray dogs from government funded shelters are given to universities for use in experiments or practical teaching classes at veterinary schools. According to papers published in recent years by researchers in Brazil about cruel experiments on dogs, 35 dogs from an unstated source were used to see if a new type of gastric band can be used to treat morbidly obese human patients. This involved researchers cutting open the dogs’ abdomens and sewing the band around their stomachs to restrict the size of the opening. Many of the dogs died due to surgical ‘complications’ while others became emaciated before eventually being killed and dissected.

Leona Lewis, who won the third series of the X-Factor UK and is currently starring in hit musical Cats on Broadway, said: “I am delighted to support Cruelty Free International with the launch of its global campaign to raise awareness of the use of stray and shelter dogs in experiments. It is unacceptable for dogs to still be suffering in laboratories and the time is right for this important issue to be placed on the public and political agenda in countries around the world.”

Anna Paquin, well-known for her roles in the X-men films and TV series True Blood, said: “Dogs belong in loving homes not laboratories. Please join me in supporting the Cruelty Free International campaign to end the use of dogs in cruel experiments across the world.”

The campaign, launched this month, has already received celebrity support from Canadian actor Eric McCormack (Will & Grace), US actors Seth Gilliam (The Wire, The Walking Dead), Lou Diamond Phillips (La Bamba) and Danny Trejo (Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy), US TV personality Cat Greenleaf, UK musician Kate Nash and Cruelty Free International Global Ambassador, international superstar violinist Vanessa-Mae.

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