Thinking Outside Our Cages
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 2010; 13(1): 96-99
Researchers seem to be stuck reiterating the now-familiar argument that barren boxes are bad for welfare and that rodents are due ethical consideration. But the prerequisites for real progress are new kinds of arguments, new types of data, and removal of very real practical and cultural obstacles to implementation of meaningful enrichment. We must discover what we have to do to effectively change the practices of people who have care and control of rodents in the laboratory, not just husbandry staff but those who develop the institution's protocols, job descriptions, and resourcing. Researchers are inventers of information, and like any inventor we should experience no satisfaction until our ideas are fully implemented-and we must be an active participant in that process. If we are asking animal caretakers to make deep, paradigmatic changes in their thinking, it is imperative that we in turn develop an emotionally positive understanding of areas important to them. For unless the welfare advocates truly understand the issues such as budgets, biosecurity, and branding, why should the people responsible for those subjects listen to us?
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