This article was originally published by Amy Davidson BSc (Hons), MBA, RQAP-GLP. Amy is Vice President, Operations at Kingfisher International Inc. She has worked as an animal care attendant, technician, quality assurance auditor and now manages a team of dedicated animal research professionals. Amy explains how talking about her profession has changed and the benefit of sharing accurate information about animal research all that will listen. This article has also appeared on the Speaking of Research website.
“You are going to hell.” “You are a horrible person.” “We cannot be friends anymore.”
I have had all of these statements declared to me from strangers and former-friends. I have chosen a career that some people consider inhumane or amoral; my job is controversial and I have lost friends and alienated people based solely on my career choice.
What do I do? I work in an animal research laboratory. Am I ashamed of my job? No! In fact, heck no!! All of the individuals I work with are kind, caring people who place animal welfare above all else. I am proud of the scientific work we perform and the care and attention placed on those animals that work with us to attain our goals.
I have been an animal researcher for almost 10 years, and in the beginning I gave families, friends and strangers some vague line using words like ‘laboratory’, ‘science’, and ‘pharmaceuticals’ so that I would not have to explain that I work with animals to further scientific endeavors. This was a mistake which I have now rectified in the past few years.
I am willing to answer any and all questions about my career to anyone willing to ask, maintaining confidentiality of our Sponsors of course. Once I started my honesty policy, I actually found most people didn’t have a strong opinion either way. Trust me, trying to be in the dating pool and tell a guy on the first date what I do for a living was really fun! I did have one date walk out on me, I had several that asked follow up questions but most just said “Wow you must be smart” and moved on with the conversation.
I will not attempt to change someone’s mind if they are against animal research, but I will correct any misconceptions people may have regarding animal research in the 21st century. I have a responsibility to the animal health community to be an advocate, to tell the truth and represent the innumerable people and animals that comprise the industry.
I am a good person, I care about animals, I care about animal welfare and safety, and I care about products going onto the market that are safe for both animals and humans to use. I have owned animals all my life (dogs, cats, and fish) and I am against all malicious acts of cruelty to any creature. I harass my own family about not leaving their dog in the car on a hot day; my cat goes to the veterinarian once a year and I have cried when we have had to euthanize animals at work. My dad is alive with diabetes today, my mom controls her arthritis and my best friend had a child using fertility aids all because animal researchers like me are continuing to perform quality science.
All I ask is that if you have an opinion about me or my career choice; please make it an informed opinion. I am not out to hurt animals or hurt you, I am trying to ensure the safety and efficacy of products that will make you and your pet feel better. I am not ashamed, I am not hiding, I am going to speak up and be honest, there is nothing to hide, no secret to keep. I am an animal researcher.