Ethical aspects of relationships between humans and research animals.
Colleen Dell and Darlene Chalmers believe in the therapeutic power of the human-animal relationship. Human-Animal Studies (HAS) is a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field that examines the complex and multidimensional relationships between humans and other animals. ASI is helping to facilitate discussion among HAS scholars. students and early career scholars pursuing research in Human-Animal Studies. For millennia, relationships have developed between animals and In addition, overlaying the fundamental relationship with the research animal are .. and become acquainted with the animals they are helping, and the.
After her initial successes, Dell was hooked. She looked for other spaces where dogs could help people improve themselves or their psychological states. This hung over the interactions she had with a counsellor at the clinic. There were no such barriers with Annabelle. The two connected immediately. When the time came for a second session, Dell was amazed by what she saw.
And who does she show? With the pictures out, the woman then showed them to Dell, then the counsellor, and the session was immediately more productive. It was a perfect demonstration of how dogs can act as a conduit for the patient-service provider relationship. At the same time, many people recognize the value in trying new things, especially in a province with addictions issues that cannot be ignored. She hopes that by continuing to show the value animals can provide in these settings and the possibilities for other areas they can move the practice further into the mainstream consciousness.
Dell now has three dogs certified for therapy work and Chalmers is training one of her own. Neither has any plans to slow down.
Both express gratitude for the other and excitement at being able to work across two academic disciplines. The work continues, with the goal of connecting more people with more animals and, ultimately, solving more problems. However, they also make a convincing argument that we have additional obligations to some animals based on the fact that we have personal relationships with them.
Nell Noddings takes a similar tact. She believes that fairness and impartiality should not be the critical components of ethical decision making. Rather, she holds that morality ultimately stems from the emotion of caring. In this context, Noddings shares the views of Carol Gilligana psychologist who is more interested in the moral principles we carry in our heads than in the abstract principles of normative ethics.
Gilligan believes that men and women approach moral problems differently.
She postulates that although men think of morality primarily in terms of justice, the moral thinking of women is couched in terms of caring. Gilligan's thesis has received the considerable attention of both scholars and the public.
However, recent studies of sex differences have cast doubt on her thesis, and it appears that both sexes can and do incorporate both caring and justice orientations when making ethical judgments Turiel Galvin and Herzogfor example, found no sex differences in the factors that college students used when evaluating a series of hypothetical animal research protocols.
Noddings incorporates the caring model into a general ethical theory and asserts that moral sensitivities are rooted in interpersonal relationships. Because Noddings is concerned with the ethical responsibilities incumbent on caregivers, her ideas are particularly relevant to the ethical implications of human-animal bonds. Noddings believes that we do have moral obligations toward some animals— the ones with whom we have personal relationships.
Thus, her cat Puffy has moral standing because she and Noddings have a relationship. Puffy's elevated moral status, according to Noddings, does not extend to her neighbor's cat. Predictably, Noddings does not think she has a general moral duty directed toward other species; for example, she feels absolutely no obligation to rats.
I am not prepared to care for it. I feel no relation to it. An obvious problem with this view is that it is open to the bugaboo of most ethicists—inconsistency. An ethical system in which a creature is afforded enhanced moral status simply because someone happens to form a bond with it violates the principle of impartiality.
It is true that Noddings' ethical theory has shortcomings in the realm of consistency. Consider the case of Helen, a supervisor in the animal facility at a large veterinary school. As is common in veterinary training facilities, students practice surgical techniques on healthy dogs. In the past, animals were the subjects of repeated student surgeries current practice in most schools is to euthanize a laboratory animal after a single operation.
The veterinary school where Helen works houses several dozen dogs at a time for the practice surgeries. The dogs are sometimes kept in the facility for several months, ample time for the technicians to form relationships with them. It is her job to select the animals for terminal surgery. She finds this task wrenching.
It is particularly difficult because the dogs enjoy social contacts with the technicians. It is difficult to derive philosophically coherent criteria that she should use in picking one dog over another. Drawing them by random number would seem the fairest method. Factors such as whether a dog barks a lot or is sloppy with its food or is cute do not seem to fit the criteria of morally relevant. However, in reality, these factors are exactly what Helen takes into account. After consulting with the other technicians, she makes her pick.
The nuisance animals go first, and the dogs with whom the caregivers have bonded go last. Moral Conflicts in Laboratories More often than not, moral dilemmas are the result of good people trying to do the right thing when the right thing is unclear.
Small animal veterinarians are examples. Many of their professional ethical issues stem from the fact that what is in the best interest of the client the owner may not be what is best for the patient the animal Tannenbaum Animal care technicians are caught in a similar dilemma.
On the one hand, the technician's allegiance lies with the people for whom he or she works—the senior scientists, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students who need the animals for their research. On the other hand, the technician's mandate is also to care for the animals, to ensure their health and, increasingly, their psychological well-being.
Human-animal interactions, relationships and bonds: a review and analysis of the literature
Technicians know what their job is, and they know who pays their salary. They understand that the vast majority of laboratory animals will be euthanized after the experiments end and the data are compiled. The ethical calculus, however, changes when a bond develops between the technician and the animal. When we take on a pet, it becomes a de facto family member Serpell Even philosophers who believe that ethical principles should be applied impartially acknowledge the moral significance of family e.
No one would seriously doubt that I have a different sort of obligation to my own children than I do to my neighbor's kids. This difference also applies to the preferential manner in which I treat my dog over my neighbor's dog. Philosophers such as NoddingsDeGraziaBurgess-Jacksonand Varner agree that when one takes on a pet, one incurs a set of special ethical duties. However, these obligations are not always clear in the case of human-research animal relationships.
For example, DeGrazia contends that there is a moral imperative for pet owners to ensure that their nonhuman companions have a lifestyle that is as comparably good as the animal would experience if it were not a pet. This principle makes sense when talking about the suburban owner of a Labrador retriever, but it is problematic when applied to an animal care technician who becomes attached to a chimpanzee in a primate laboratory. The ethical consequences of the implicit contract between caregiver and pet can fall heavily on laboratory personnel.
As a result of her attachment to this dog, she asked one of the technicians to make a swap, and the technician euthanized another dog in its place. From a purely philosophical perspective, this exchange is problematic; the fact that a person with authority finds a dog adorable does not seem to be a morally relevant reason for allowing it to live while another dies.
This training generally necessitates additional time spent with the animal as well as close proximity between the individual and the animal. The task required by the animal may be an element of an experimental procedure. Examples include adapting swine and sheep to a cloth sling for restraint purposes Panepinto et al.
Ethical aspects of relationships between humans and research animals.
Staff may also train animals to perform certain actions to facilitate husbandry procedures. Similarly, nonhuman primates are trained to move from their home cage into a transfer cage to facilitate routine cage sanitation procedures and to avoid the necessity of anesthetizing the animal to manually remove it from the soiled cage.
In these circumstances, the trainer often can distinguish differences in performance among animals, including the speed at which the animal learns the task, the degree of cooperation the animal exhibits, the most effective rewards, and which of the trainer's cues produce the best learning results. In this way, the elements of proximity, longer temporal relationship, and enhanced understanding of the animal act synergistically to foster a relationship between the trainer and the animals.
Training of the animal care staff in animal behavior is a key component to improving job performance and, more importantly, enhancing animal well-being. For example, personnel who have a sound understanding of the species-typical behaviors of the nonhuman primates with whom they work will be able to use that knowledge to expedite animal training programs, avoid behaviors that may be interpreted by the animals as threatening e.
The training should include the general behaviors for the species as well as the specific behaviors expressed by individual animals Fouts et al.
This increased understanding of the animals can lead to empathy for them, which builds a bridge between staff and animals.
The editors of Webster's Dictionary recognize that understanding is essential to the development of a relationship. Talking to the Animals For training programs to be successful, there must be effective communication between the trainer and the animal. In general, a positive reinforcement paradigm will promote achievement of training goals. However, it is not uncommon for the trainer also to use verbal commands and praise during behavioral shaping sessions.
Staff may also use verbal communication as they would with a pet animal. Human-animal communication also occurs outside the context of training regimens. For example, staff provide special food treats to the animals while using species-relevant visual and auditory cues that signal behaviors or intentions. As little as 6 min of staff time each week spent handing out food treats to rhesus monkeys while the individual exhibits submissive or affiliative behaviors e. Communication with animals should not be restricted to the larger laboratory species.
Hart notes that a newsletter on pet rats included in its first issue a discussion of teaching a rat to come to its name. Although the capacity for laboratory animals to understand verbal communication has not been defined fully, there is sufficient anecdotal information to suggest that verbal communication can be effective with a variety of animals. Clearly more research is needed in this area with other laboratory species.
It should not be construed that laboratory personnel principally talk to the animals in their care only during training sessions. Indeed, the fact that staff frequently name animals indicates that names are serving as verbal reference points—not only between personnel discussing an animal but also between the staff member and the laboratory animal.
The staff member may say something to the animal while handing it food treats, cleaning its cage, or working with it during a clinical or experimental procedure.
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Veterinarians commonly speak to the animals they are handling and offer the animals some comfort by using a soothing tone of voice. Beck and Katcher have shown that much of the verbal communication between people and animals is in the form of simple questions—asking how or what the animal is doing, whether it is hungry, or what it wants. Frequently the pitch of the voice is similar to that used when talking to an infant.
Interestingly, research has shown that talking to animals can reduce a person's stress and blood pressure Friedmann et al. The sharing that occurs naturally during communication and the enhanced feeling of well-being experienced by individuals talking to animals are additional building blocks for a bond to form between staff and laboratory animals.
Role of Regulations and Guidelines in Fostering the Bond Since their inception, federal laws and policies aimed at protecting animals have reflected the public's concern for the humane treatment of animals. Laws and policies designed to protect laboratory animals frequently do so in ways that facilitate the creation of a relationship or bond between the animals and facility staff. Not only does this statement establish a baseline for the appropriate use of analgesics, but it also encourages scientific staff to identify their own feelings with those of animals.
Among the amendments to the Animal Welfare Act was a mandate to provide for nonhuman primates an environment that promotes their psychological well-being. In subsequent years, the scientific community and different animal care staff have developed and implemented numerous methods of providing environmental enrichment.
In general, these methods have resulted in increased interaction between the animals and their caregivers.