This semester I have a class dedicated to only lab animals and lab animal health and manipulations. Honestly, going into this class I thought that I would hate it. I was against the use of animals for research, but I also didn’t really understand it.
For this class, once a week we go to a lab where my school has their own rats and mice. There we learn basic restraints, injection sites, manipulations. But also we learn about GLP which is Good Laboratory Practices. These are basically a set of rules created in order to deliver the best care to the laboratory animals in a laboratory setting. Laboratories, if they don’t follow these practices, will not get funded.
The more I learn about laboratory practice the more I realize that the medications and knowledge that we have in the veterinary world would not exist without laboratory practice and research. Research is done in these settings in order to help our companion animals and our human families, by studying diseases and researching medications etc.
Going to the lab with my classmates each week does not feel like a class. It feels like a field trip. It is a joy to work with the rats and the little mice. We make sure they are well taken care of and give them plenty of treats and enrichment.
The best, most unexpected part of this experience is that I learned that rats are so cute! They are super nice, affectionate creatures who are amazing to work with. I had only ever worked with companion animals and farm animals before so this was a fun discovery.
I am really grateful that my school has allowed me to have this opportunity to change my mind about laboratory practices. I know that not every Animal Health Technician student has this sort of opportunity in their school life. So I am grateful that I get to expand my knowledge of veterinary health and practices that happen in the animal health world.