Voices from the Labs

Sad Cat

Do you or have you worked inside an animal research facility and been disturbed at what you’ve witnessed? Or have you served on an Animal Ethics Committee and felt that your position was quashed by researchers?

We are regularly told by researchers and technicians that the animals in their care are treated with the highest welfare standards, that they are protected by legislation, codes of practice and ethics committees and that they are often treated better than household pets.

On the other hand, we also hear from people who have turned their back on the industry as they cannot justify the actions they have taken or witnessed which have caused harm to animals. We have been told about shame, regret and depression brought about by their times within an animal laboratory.

See the following articles where animal researchers have had a change of heart when they realise the harm they cause to sentient beings:

Second Thoughts of an Animal Researcher

They All Had Eyes - Confessions of a Vivisectionist

Don't Fall in Love With Your Monkey (from 2008)

Humane Research Australia is looking for individuals who are willing to speak out about their experiences.

If you are willing to provide a testimonial we would love to speak to you. We do of course respect your need for anonymity, but are keen to speak directly to those with genuine concerns.


"Serving on an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) is not easy or pleasant for a person who does not agree with vivisection. [Y]ou must believe in your own intelligence, and not be afraid to ask questions, as some of the other members of the committee will try to make you feel inferior and stupid.
The Category C member is required to make decisions based on biased information. It is the experiments, not the wellbeing of animals, which is the focus of scientists. Although required to complete a protocol for each experiment, indicating level of pain and distress for experimental animals, they are doing so under sufferance, and the information provided is not always accurate or complete.
One example that comes to mind involved a new medication for a fatal respiratory disease in pigs. In the proposed experimental design, pigs were to be infected at the start of a day early in the working week, monitored every hour or two, and any that became very ill were to be euthanized by a vet. There was no mention of monitoring after 5.00 pm. The animals were to be left, unsupervised, from 5.00 pm to 8.00 am each day. At the insistence of the two Category C members on the committee, minimal overnight monitoring was included in the experiment. It was agreed, begrudgingly, to pay a vet to call in at 3.00 am each morning, and euthanize any pigs that were extremely ill.
Many other experiments that passed through my AEC were, in my opinion, totally unnecessary. Many experiments, involving countless animals, are conducted under the guise of ‘basic research’ (ie ‘suck it and see’). When I questioned these lines of research, other members of the committee expressed shock at my presumption. I remember one set of experiments using sheep. Drugs were administered into the brain, and then regular blood samples taken, just to see what showed up. The scientist who led this research was well respected and very well-funded. Interestingly, part of his project also involved the collection of blood from guinea pigs. His first colony of guinea pigs mysteriously died. Unfortunately, neither he, nor any of his staff, had bothered to find out that guinea pigs, like humans, cannot produce their own Vitamin C, and require this vitamin in their diet."
Cherie Wilson, September 2012, served as Category C (Animal Welfare) rep on an Animal Ehics Committee for 13 years. 

Former Australian animal lab manager ''Robert'', who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: ''When you are involved with these hierarchies in these universities, these people [researchers] have an agenda that they are pushing … They study a very narrow field and they are going to do what they are going to do no matter what. That is very evident if you go back to animal ethics committees. Most things get approved.''

He said he believed animal testing was a ''necessary evil''. But he now felt some aspects of it were wrong. ''My views are now that animals don't have a voice. We don't have the right to be able to take animals' lives because they don't think like human beings - we are ruthless in what we do.''

Robert, who was involved in animal testing on a daily basis for 40 years until he retired about seven years ago, said he had seen marmosets that had undergone ''painful'' teeth banding and kidney transplants. He said when marmosets were taken from their family groups for testing, the families ''get very upset''. ''They rush around and they make quite a lot of noise … They can get quite aggro.''

The ''fate of the animals'', as stated in the NHMRC policy on non-human primates used in scientific research, is that: ''In most cases, euthanasia will be the only option.''

''They don't put them back into the pasture,'' Robert said. ''They all end up dead. Every laboratory animal … is eventually put into a wheelie bin and burnt.''

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/the-monkey-farm-primates-being-bred-for-experiments-20121124-2a0gz.html#ixzz2Da7KIzdm


[Referring to four animal cases]: "These are animals who I personally attempted to help but due to politics, university practices and current legislation, was unable to provide assistance, or even comfort to. Despite my persistence and dedication to their wellbeing and longevity, 18 months later these animals remain in less than ideal circumstances. Eva [hen]still resides in her hot, cramped, wire-bottom cage. Daisy [sow] continues living in an unventilated, cramped stall with no room to lay down properly or turn around. Bella [cat] was found dead in her litter’s after-birth literally a meter from the doorstep of the campus Veterinary Clinic. And Boots [dog] was euthanized by university staff 2 weeks after I met him.

"I have since ceased my studies with UQ and find myself haunted by the unwillingness of UQ, or the RSPCA, to change these conditions.
"The animal welfare legislative breaches I witnessed whilst a student at UQ were wide and varied. My concern for the suffering of these animals, is almost outweighed by the daunting prospect of current animal science students who are being taught within these settings, then becoming industry leaders within regulating and welfare bodies such as RSPCA, Biosecurity, and advisory committees, acting under the assumption that these conditions are normal practice because it is all they have known.
"University animal husbandry practices are supposed to reflect current industry best-practices. However, using outdated, inefficient methods are not reflective of best-practices."
Shannon Fitsimmons, ex-veterinary student, November 2012

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