Animal Welfare

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Laboratory animal science represents a challenging and controversial form of human-animal relations because its practice involves the deliberate and inadvertent harming and killing of animals. We propose that different notions of care are enacted alongside, not only permitted levels of harm inflicted on research animals following research protocols, but also harms to ATs in the processes of caring and killing animals.

Endotoxin testing is a vital part of quality and safety control in pharmaceutical production. The primary method for this testing in North America and Europe is the limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) test, a critical component of which is the blood of Atlantic horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus). Procuring blood for LAL testing involves capturing and bleeding over 500,000 crabs from wild marine populations each year. Whilst efforts are made by manufacturers to return crabs to the sea following the collection of blood, there is a level of mortality and sub-lethal impact involved, prompting increasing discussions about welfare and ethics. The 3Rs – the ambition to where possible, replace, reduce, and refine the use of animals – are established and accepted worldwide as the best framework for governing animal-dependent science. However, the biomedical utilization of horseshoe crabs to produce the LAL test has rarely been viewed through a 3Rs framework. More recently, there has been a renewed attention on sustainable methods and alternatives to the LAL test. Drawing on in-depth qualitative interviews, this article examines stakeholder perspectives on opportunities for thinking with the 3Rs, considering current appetites to replace, refine, and reduce contemporary biomedical reliance on horseshoe crabs. The shape of conversations about the biomedical utilization of horseshoe crabs has shifted significantly in recent years, and the 3Rs are an important driver of change, offering the potential to advance the use of more sustainable methods, and realize the welfare considerations increasingly expected across science and society.

The third issue of the AnNex Newsletter, December 2019

While sociologists of medicine have focused their efforts on understanding human health, illness, and medicine, veterinary medical practice has not yet caught their attention in any sustained way. In this critical review article, we use insights from the sociology of diagnosis literature to explore veterinary practice, and aim to demonstrate the importance of animals to sociological understandings of health, illness and disease. We hope that this work encourages more focus on the veterinary profession, and a better understanding of the role of the vet inside and outside the laboratory. 

This paper draws on ethnographic work with laboratory animal technologists to offer insights into the skills required to study human–animal relations and the role played by storytelling in negotiating the contested moral economies of animal research.

The Routledge Companion to Animal-Human History provides an up-to-date guide for the historian working within the growing field of animal-human history. This book chapter by Rob Kirk suggests that to understand animal–human history we would do well to start with the role of animals in science.

Vets play an important role in a wide variety of social contexts, including in ‘non-therapeutic’ roles, for example in facilitating the use of animals in sport or for food production. This paper focuses on a further non-therapeutic example, namely the role of the vet in laboratory animal research

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Written by: Ally Palmer, Reuben Message, Beth Greenhough, Bentley Crudgington
Written by: Tess Skidmore
Written by: Reuben Message, Bentley Crudgington

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