An experiment approved by the Lincoln University animal ethics committee saw the collection of 10 dogs from a Christchurch animal shelter that were then fed concentrated doses of poison before being euthanaised.
An application from an external organisation was approved for the experiment by Lincoln University in 2010, for "trials assessing the effects of sodium nitrate during its development as a humane alternative to 1080".
Bait containing sodium nitrate was later registered to kill possums and feral pigs in 2013.
In a statement provided by the university, no further trials approved by the animal ethics committee involved dogs.
The university says it was the responsibility of the applicant to ensure "the procurement, production, maintenance of animals as well as for the work undertaken" complied with the Animal Welfare Act and the university's code of conduct for use of animals.
The applicant, according to the report, collected 10 dogs from a Christchurch pound to evaluate the risks of dogs eating carcasses as well as specific organs from possums that had ingested the poison.
Dogs were separated into groups, with one group being fed minced possum organs and another group fed entire carcasses.
The dogs were then monitored after the meal to see if they would present signs of sodium nitrate poisoning.
According to the report, these can include "vomiting, excessive thirst, diarrhorrea, heavy panting, the loss of coordination and methaemoglobinaemia (such as shortness of breath, cyanosis, lethargy, loss of consciousness, and bluish colouring of lips, gums, paws and nose)".
The dogs were later euthanaised by a veterinarian at the end of the seven-day trial.
New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society spokesperson Tara Jackson says the experiment highlights how little impact ethics committees have as "even projects with this callous approach to life can be approved".
“These experiments happen behind closed doors, and it is no surprise the public is horrified when we expose this kind of cruelty. These poor creatures were taken from a pound, fed poison, and then killed.”
Ms Jackson says her organisation has a waiting list of people willing to re-home dogs used in experiments like this.