At a recent meeting I attended, I learned a scary piece of information that’s been on my mind. Yesterday’s post by Dr. J & Mrs. H regarding careless use of animals on protocols that may or may not be updated… brought this topic into the forefront for me again- although it’s been sorta lying in the back of my brain since I learned about it.
One thing that I am extreme stickler about is the proper care and treatment of laboratory animals. I bend as many rules as the next person in real life (yeah- so I drive a little fast from time to time), but on this one particular topic I never.ever.ever. bend the rules. Period. I diligently write my protocols, and wait for the proper approvals. If I want to make a change to a protocol or add an additional procedure I fill out the proper amendment and wait. My trainees know the rules, and we stick to the rules, period.
Why am I so rigid about this? Well, for one thing- it’s the right thing to do. I am a veterinarian- I know that although some people might say… it’s just a RODENT…. to me it’s a living creature that feels, doesn’t like pain… and has needs some of which I comprehend, and some of which I don’t. It’s my responsibility to make sure that I use these models with respect for those things, and use as few as possible. But we’ve talked a lot about IACUCs, animal rights folks/their actions, and such previously.
Secondly- and here’s what is on my mind today- I recently learned that a colleague of mine has had their name and contact information prominently displayed on the website of an animal rights group. While I will continue to do things with the rigor with which I do them because I know it’s the right way to do things… the idea of being targeted and having name and personal contact information outed on one of these sites scares the living daylights of out me. This makes me worry about my safety and security, and that of the trainees in my group, at work… but also at home… The last thing I need or want is to have someone firebomb my house because they disagreed with the use of animals in my research.
So, my question to you all is- how do you protect yourselves from this? What measures should be taken at the level of the institution – because it’s their property as well that may suffer damage… and at the individual level to be aware of and track such threats?