16 June, 2022
I have worked in the animal research sector for around six years now and have worked up from a Junior Animal Technician to a Small Animal Facility Supervisor. During this time, my views on the use of animals in research have changed considerably thanks to people being willing to open up with me about their work, legal requirements and their own views. If you had told my younger self that this would have been the case I would have never believed you and that is why I wanted to share my story with you.
As a young child, I was fascinated with animals and I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where this was encouraged. We had dogs, cats, hamsters, rats, birds, even a snail, and a praying mantis at one point! My animals were my world and as such I dreamt of becoming either a zookeeper or a vet nurse just like many young children. After I finished college, I applied for a place on a bachelor’s degree to study Zoology and was accepted. I felt as though I was getting closer to my dream! After exploring my options and completing work experience as a zookeeper I quickly realised that this role was not for me. I began work experience at a local veterinary surgery and unfortunately found out that I did not have access to the funds for extra study. The closer I got to graduation the more confused I got about what I wanted to do with my life!
Fast forward a few days and I was discussing the role with my now husband. He reminded me that our families had both been through many health issues over the years and without these animals and technicians, many of our family members would not be around today. My nephew was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of six, my brother aged 21 and my father-in-law back in 2000. The discovery of insulin by F. Bating and C. H. Best back in 1921 from the extracts of dog pancreases has meant that I was able to watch my family learn to live with this disease and watch my young nephew grow up healthy. Not only has this helped my family and others like us but it has also helped out thousands of animals through the advancements of veterinary treatments. For this, I am eternally grateful to all of the animals used and I am proud to work in such a sector.
This made me consider, if I am happy using these treatments along with other common medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, how could I continue to believe it was best to scrap medical research? I felt that I was being hypocritical and therefore needed to experience the area myself before forming any more views. I had a realisation that if I could get a job in this field then I was being given a great opportunity to be an advocate for the animals that have saved and will save so many lives.
I began working in my first role back in 2016 and within the first few days, I was shown that every person in the Unit cared a massive amount for the animals in our care. They were all highly educated through industry specific qualifications and were extremely knowledgeable in all things required legally in the sector. Since then, I have gone on to get my industry qualifications and my personal license (PIL) which allows me to complete regulated procedures.
Whilst at the Babraham Institute, I have gained a good understanding of the different roles. There are many key people such as the Named Animal Care and Welfare Officer, Named Veterinary Surgeon and Named Training and Competency Officer. Their roles are extremely important for the welfare of the animals and the continued development of our staff. I found that the care for our animals was at all levels not just in those completing the husbandry tasks.
I am grateful to have found a career where the welfare of animals is crucial and that my work can benefit both medical and veterinary research. I would recommend that anyone considering a job in research or even someone who wants to challenge their own views to try it out or contact someone for further information as the Institute is very open in their use of animals.
16 June 2022