(Intro) Animals used in research are greatly valued and respected in the biomedical and medical research fields.
All animals are not purposely killed or mistreated when used for research purposes. In fact, technicians who care for the animals hold great accountability to maintain and properly treat these animals. It is important that animals are properly treated because they provide the normal biological and behavioral responses researchers need to measure. If they are not well taken care of they are poor research models and scientists do not get the accurate information they need from testing.
When considering whether you should use animals for research purposes, it is important to take into account the strict regulations, similar structures animals have to humans, and the overall medical and pharmaceutical advancements that have occurred because of animal research. There are four federal agencies which regulate research animals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates human and animal food, drug, cosmetic, biological, etc. products and performs lab tests on animals for prescription or over-the-counter drugs before they are tested on humans. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses data from mostly animal tests to identify and regulate substances in the environment that could potentially be harmful to humans and animals. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) uses animal data to identify and regulate risks that originate from household and other products.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) uses animal data and other sources to set regulations that protect workers in their workplace.There are four laws that protect research animals: The U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research and Training, the Animal Welfare Act, USDA, and Health Research Extension Act. The U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research and Training make sure animal tests are relevant to human and animal health, the minimum number of animals necessary are used to get valid results, an alternative to animals is considered, animal pain is minimized, living conditions are appropriate for each species, and only properly trained caregivers and researchers can work with the animals. The Animal Welfare Act covers animals such as guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, dogs, etc.
It also inspects research facilities and the animals they used, and reviews and approves procedures involving animals before they take place. The USDA ensures the IACUC that animal pain is minimized, alternatives to animals were considered, and activities aren’t unnecessarily duplicated. When animals are used, standards require proper care for animals such as housing, feeding, cleaning, and exercise and psychological programs for mammals like dogs and primates. The Health Research Extension Act applies to all facilities that receive funding to conduct research from the federal government, and is supported by the Public Health Service (PHS) governing the use of animals in research.cThe Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) plays a huge role in researching animal welfare. It is mainly responsible for overseeing an organization’s animal care and use program and reviewing each proposed use of animals to assure compliance with federal laws and regulations. The IACUC operates at animal research facilities and labs, specifically those located at institutions or universities (hence the name IACUC).
The IACUC has many responsibilities involving the well-being of animals. It inspects and reviews all facilities, investigates big concerns from the public or employees regarding animal use/care, prepares reports of evaluations, reviews and approves proposed activities involving animals, and suspends a research activity involving animals if necessary and reports it to the USDA.There are also many requirements for completing animal research under the IACUC. Research planned and performed has to follow federal regulations, pain/distress to animals is minimized, and if pain is involved then anesthetics must be used, alternatives to procedures that involve pain must be considered and research should not be unnecessarily duplicated. Only trained personnel should be involved, living conditions must be appropriate for the species, surgery performed must meet requirements, and if an animal were to be killed, a method of euthanasia must be consistent with USDA regulations.Many medical advancements have been made through the use of animals in research.
Animals have been used for years during pre-clinical tests, promoting new scientific discoveries that are still known of today. Studies with various research animals have prompted the making of several vaccines, including smallpox and polio, that led to the eradication of those diseases. Other advancements that have been made include antibiotics (penicillin) and treatments for conditions such as tuberculosis, asthma, and meningitis.
Due to animal research, these advancements have saved millions of lives, as well as increasing the human life span by thirty years since 1900 (https://fbresearch.org/medical-advances/ ). “Americans are living longer, healthier lives and we owe much of that success to biomedical research” (Robert Palazzo, Ph.D, President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology). (Conclusion) Animals used in research are well respected and valued for their contribution to human health.
Because of this, scientists and technicians make sure that the animals feel at home and calm. Providing the animals with all the care they need allows scientists to get the results they need from testing and further develop new technologies that could benefit both humans and animals. Next time someone mistakes animal research as harmful, remind them of how grateful our community is for all that animals do to help our knowledge and technology thrive.