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J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2007;10(3):267-77.

Genetic engineering and other factors that might affect human-animal interactions in the research setting.

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  • 1Canadian Council on Animal Care, Ottawa, Canada.


Evidence exists, particularly in the welfare literature of nonhuman animals on the farm, that the interaction between nonhuman animals and the personnel who care for them can have a strong effect on the animals' behavior, productivity, and welfare. Among species commonly used for biomedical research, mice appear to be the least-preferred species in animal care facilities. A review of the literature and observations of animal care staff interacting with mice indicated that the following factors may influence this: their small size, their particular behavioral characteristics, and husbandry constraints (such as housing in ventilated racks). In addition, this study questioned whether animal care personnel have a different perception of genetically engineered animals and whether this, in turn, has an effect on their interactions with these animals. The ability to carefully observe an animal's behavior is key in carrying out an animal-wellness assessment and in minimizing pain and distress. Attention to human-animal interactions in the research setting represents an opportunity for refinement for large numbers of animals and potentially for reduction of animal use.

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