The number of scientific breakthroughs discovered by working with animals in research is staggering. Great strides in the cureS for cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, high blood pressure, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, catastrophic injury and other crippling and fatal diseases are being made.
The general public only knows what has been portrayed in the media. In fact, the “Pett on Animal Testing” editorial cartoon only fueled the misconception that all research is conducted by mad scientists and is horribly abusive to animals.
Nothing is further from the truth. Conducting research is highly regulated. Protocols must be written by the principal investigator and approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which conducts semi-annual program reviews and facility inspections.
There is post-approval monitoring for all protocols. Many regulatory agencies ensure the health and well-being of the animals. The “3Rs” in animal research are reduction, replacement and refinement. It means reducing the number of animals needed in any given study, replacing animals with other models whenever possible and refining procedures to involve the fewest number of animals while still giving valid results.
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If you have ever taken prescription or over-the-counter medication, been vaccinated, had a medical procedure, changed your diet to control a medical condition or had physical therapy, you have benefited from animal research. We need to acknowledge the contributions scientists, the animals and the animal care staff have made that have saved millions of human and animal lives and reduced suffering worldwide.
Toma J. Matott
Facilities operations manager, Division of Laboratory Animal Resources
University of Kentucky