A new study found that the number of animals used in federally funded labs rose from an average of 74,619 to 128,846 animals used per year from 1997 to 2012, according to NBC. The total number of animals used in labs rose from 1,566,994 to 2,705,772 over the 15-year period.

PETA, the team behind the research, which was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, found a 72 percent increase in the use of animals — mostly mice. The team got these numbers from species inventories, which reported “approximate average daily inventory” of vertebrate animals held at each institution. The only species that saw a consistent decline in use over time was cats.

“This bias persists despite extensive evidence that — like dogs, cats and primates — animals such as mice, rats and fish experience pain, stress and distress, and suffer in laboratories and have complex social, emotional and cognitive lives,” PETA’s Dr. Alka Chandna wrote in the report, according to NBC. “These patterns contradict industry claims of reduced animal use but are consistent with international trends in experimental use of animals in recent years that show an increased use of mice (mainly for gene modification purposes) and, in some cases, fish while reporting declines in the use of cats, dogs, primates, rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters.”

Chandna wrote that this increase when the federally funded labs are claiming a decrease wasn’t just troubling to animal welfare advocates, but also the general public — whose tax dollars they’re using — and scientists.

The report also found that though federal policies “discourage” the use of “higher” animals like chimpanzees, there is no rule that governs their use. The U.S. is currently the only nation in the world other than Gabon that still conducts invasive experiments on chimpanzees.

Not surprisingly, an official at the National Institute of Health disagreed with the findings because they were taken from “Animal Welfare Assurances,” so they don’t accurately reflect the numbers used, and thus PETA’s rationale is wrong. But, we’re confused, would the numbers have changed if a different group looked them up? We’re pretty sure that’s not how federal reporting policies work.

How You Can Help

To help stop practices like federally-funded animal testing, educate yourself on what kinds of products are tested on animals, and supplement for cruelty-free products.

Though many proponents argue that animal testing ends up helping humans long term, that’s actually not true. Humans can also be hurt by animal testing, and a 2009 peer-reviewed study found that only about 59 percent of scientific research that tested on animals had a stated goal or objective. And another study found that, unfortunately, since the majority of animals used in testing are killed during or after experiments, their lives and well-being are routinely sacrificed in the name of poor research.

After becoming educated, we can take the next step by signing a petition. Here’s one to replace animals in research with non-animal alternatives. Sign PETA’s petition to end all animal testing, or their petition to stop testing on farm animals.

Image source: Tambako The Jaguar/Flickr