MPs and animal welfare activists have attempted to pull Parliament's heartstrings by recruiting a pack of photogenic beagles in a protest against the possible testing of party pills on animals.
The Green Party and animal rights groups, surrounded by around 20 dogs, delivered a petition of 60,000 signatures to demand a complete ban on animal testing in a new safety regime being developed as part of a new bill to regulate synthetic drugs.
The pack of beagles were said to have been rescued from laboratories which tested medicines for safe consumption. Protesters held signs which read: "No Animal Need Die for a Legal High".
Save Animals From Exploitation (Safe) spokesman Hans Kriek told the protesters: "It is such an appalling thing in New Zealand that we can even consider torturing animals ... for a recreational drug."
Green Party animal welfare spokeswoman Mojo Mathers told the protesters she was drafting an amendment to the Psychoactive Substances Bill which would ensure that any information gained from animal testing could not be used to prove that a drug was safe.
The Greens also held their own hearings on animal testing yesterday following a decision by the health committee that submissions which focused on animal welfare were outside the scope of the bill.
New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society spokesman Stephen Manson argued that legal highs should not require the same robust tests as pharmaceuticals - which required some animal testing - because they were for recreational use.
"People don't need to take them to stay alive. They choose to take them and they take them with informed risk," he said.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said he had urged officials to find any possible alternative to animal testing. He said the testing regime would be decided by an expert committee which included SPCA chief executive and staunch animal welfare advocate Bob Kerridge.