What Animals Want: Expertise and Advocacy in Laboratory Animal Welfare Policy

What Animals Want: Expertise and Advocacy in Laboratory Animal Welfare Policy

What Animals Want: Expertise and Advocacy in Laboratory Animal Welfare Policy

What Animals Want: Expertise and Advocacy in Laboratory Animal Welfare Policy


Larry Carbone, a veterinarian who is in charge of the lab animal welfare assurance program at a major research university, presents this scholarly history of animal rights. Biomedical researchers, and the less fanatical among the animal rights activists will find this book reasonable, humane, and novel in its perspective. It brings a novel, sociological perspective to an area that has been addressed largely from a philosophical perspective, or from the entrenched positions of highly committed advocates of a particular position in the debate.


I TELL PEOPLE I MEET THAT I AM A VETERINARIAN AND THEIR FACES LIGHT UP. PEOPLE feel good about veterinarians and so I listen to stories about their pets' ailments or antics, or about how they, too, always wanted to be a veterinarian. It's a nice feeling; in a 1999 Gallup survey, veterinarians were rated the third most trusted profession, right behind nurses and pharmacists, just ahead of physicians (Gallup Poll 1999).

Folks who know a bit about veterinary practice invariably ask, “Small or large animal?” The fact is that I work with animals great and small—some very small, actually—but not with anybody's pets. I work with scientists' laboratory animals— their mice and frogs and monkeys and dogs and sheep. Smiles of recognition of who vets are and what vets do invariably give way to something more serious when I explain my field of practice. People feel discomfort at having to think beyond the happy stereotype. They must stop and think seriously, for however briefly, about how we use animals and how we treat animals in our society. The responses I elicit to my unusual line of work are what brought me to this write this book.

People with no connection to animal research must somehow reconcile the person before them—nice guy, doesn't eat meat, smiles at stories about their pets— with whatever images the mention of animal research conjures. “Is it painful for the animals?” “Is it really necessary?” “Are the scientists cruel to them?” Some people want to know more, to get some actual feel for how good people can do bad things to animals in the pursuit of medical progress. Others prefer to have their heroes and villains neatly delineated. “Good thing you're in there on the animals' side,” they'll say to me as they look me in the eye with understanding and encouragement, though they barely have a clue of who I am or what I do, or that I think of myself as also being on the scientists' side. They might say, “So you keep them healthy until the scientists can make them sick.” And yes, that's part of it.

Animal activists protest outside our doors. They may never have visited a laboratory, but they are sure that what happens inside must be stopped (figure 1.1). In the coming chapters I present something of a behind-the-scenes look at animal research. I am not writing about whether animals should be in laboratories or whether people have a right to use them in experiments. Rather, I start with the reality that I experience on the job: animals are in laboratories, and they are going to be there for many years to come. My goal here is to understand efforts over the past . . .

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