Ethical Emergency Planning in Animal Research Facilities: Lessons from the Pandemic

Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research (2024)
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Abstract

In this article, we discuss the ethics of research suspensions in animal research facilities and the consequent (mis)treatment of laboratory animals during emergencies. Through a case study from Switzerland during the COVID-19 pandemic, we articulate ethical principles and moral considerations that ought to guide the treatment and care of laboratory animals within animal research facilities during emergencies. They include a principle of preparedness, the importance of recognizing animal laboratory personnel as essential workers and conducting a Harm-Benefit Analysis in the case of an emergency, assigning responsibilities in a clear way, and providing psychological support in the aftermath of an emergency. More generally, we suggest that the pandemic should be taken as a learning opportunity for critically re-evaluating and improving emergency planning within animal research institutions worldwide, in view of mitigating risks to both human and animal well-being in future emergencies.

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Angela K. Martin
University of Basel

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