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Culture of Care: Organizational Responsibilities.


In: Weichbrod RH, Thompson GAH, Norton JN, editors.


Management of Animal Care and Use Programs in Research, Education, and Testing. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2018. Chapter 2.


Animal use in research has contributed significantly to advances in science and medicine, and the role of laboratory animal professionals in this process is pivotal (AALAS 2001; Medina 2008). While it is desirable to use alternatives to live animals for this process, the use of animals continues to be necessary to protect human and animal health and the environment (EU 2010). To preserve the privilege to use animals in research, a strong program of animal care and use becomes important for several reasons: regulatory compliance, quality of scientific results, addressing public sensitivities, managing staff sensitivities, and moral obligations to the animals themselves. Regulations impacting on the care and use of research animals are covered in greater detail elsewhere in this text. The most commonly referenced regulatory standards include the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Guide) (recognized internationally as setting standards for animal care and use), European Union (EU) Directive 2010/63/EU, and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The Guide states that “all who care for, use, or produce animals for research, testing or teaching must assume responsibility for their well-being,” and that “both researchers and institutions have affirmative duties of humane care and use” of research animals, which is later defined as “those actions taken to ensure that laboratory animals are treated according to high ethical and scientific standards” (NRC 2011). The Guide further states that “it is the institution’s responsibility to put into place policies, procedures, standards, organizational structure, staffing, facilities, and practices to ensure the humane care and use of laboratory animals throughout the institution” (NRC 2011). The EU Directive states that animals have intrinsic value that must be respected and that “animal welfare considerations should be given the highest priority ” that each use is carefully evaluated,” and that principles of replacement, reduction, and refinement (the 3Rs) should be considered systematically when using animals in research (EU 2010). The OIE, comprised of more than 170 member countries, has eight guiding principles on animal welfare outlined in its Animal Health Code. These principles also support incorporation of the 3Rs and state “that the use of animals carries with it an ethical responsibility to ensure their welfare to the greatest extent practicable” (OIE 2008). Biomedical progress depends, fundamentally, on scientific excellence, which is dependent on quality animal care (Ad Hoc Committee to Revise the International Guiding Principles 2012; Friese 2013). The provision of excellent care also addresses some of the ethical and moral concerns of the general public regarding the use of animals in research. Animal care and use carries with it the responsibility to ensure that high ethical and scientific standards (NRC 2011) are met, and the public is reassured by knowing how much effort is expended by animal caregiving staff on behalf of the animals, to adhere to the intent as well as the scope of the laws that protect research animals (Medina 2008; EU 2010; Coleman 2011). Strong animal care and use programs also address the sensitivities of staff, who often choose careers in animal research because of their love and compassion for animals (Coleman 2011; Davies and Horst 2015). Institutional culture influences the productivity and performance of many enterprises (Simone 2009; Ng’ang’a and Nyongesa 2012; Uddin et al. 2013), and cultures that promote caring for the animals and people supporting animal care and use programs can provide a basis for an exceptional animal care and use program. This culture, often referred to as the “culture of caring” or “culture of care,” promotes compassion and respect for laboratory animals and the people who work with them. In discussing a “strong culture” at a successful large technology company, Kunda focuses on the “self-conscious and tireless celebration of the company’s strong culture”“one in which employees are creative, committed, entrepreneurial, independent, and moral.” This involves not only employees’ intellectual skills and physical presence, but also their emotions, moral sense, and personal loyalties (Kunda 2006). Care is less something to be rigidly defined than a style of thinking. It “directs attention to what was once rendered invisible within scientific research ” as opposed to the calculable and controllable” (Mol et al. 2010). Davies and Horst (2015) write about the relationship between “craft” (or skills) and “care” and reflect on the potential implications of the promotion of a culture of care in a research setting. They propose a model of craft as a caring practice “which brings together skill, a focus on utility or purpose and a particular emotional orientation (care, passion and commitment).” In their analysis of numerous research labs globally, they found that “a happy group was understood as a productive one,” and the strongest leaders accommodated different individuals and viewed treating people well as vital, “both because it is the right thing to do and because it is, ultimately, good for science.” A culture of care goes beyond being compliant with applicable rules and regulations and strives to meet the full intent of established rules and regulations”“excellent animal welfare and reproducible scientific results. Many of the laws and guidelines surrounding animal care and use allow for the use of professional judgment (Klein and Bayne 2007). This should not be interpreted to support a minimalistic approach that just meets the letter of the law, but instead should be applied to working with animals in a manner that strives to provide the best possible care for the animals, thus producing the highest-quality scientific results (Medina 2008). A culture of care often starts with an institutional mission and value statement that clearly states the institution’s commitment to the humane care and use of animals (Phanuel Kofi Darbi 2012). This mission statement frequently refers to the advancement of knowledge, the development of life-saving procedures and drugs, improving the quality of life for humans and animals, or some similar goal. The corresponding value statement, often referred to as “core values,” articulates the institution’s commitment to animal welfare, the humane care and use of laboratory animals, and/or the implementation of the 3Rs. Examples include: “[Our Institution] is committed to the humane care of the research animals we produce and work with in all of our activities” ( “We are committed to reducing our reliance on animal testing methods, and promoting the development, validation and use of non-animal testing models. [The Institution] requires that where animals have been or may be used for research or testing, that we abide by the principles of the 3Rs of animal research” ( “[Our Institution] is committed to ensuring the humane care and use of laboratory animals in the company’s research and development programs. We recognize that high quality science and humane animal care are inseparable. In addition to complying with applicable legislation and regulations, [Our Institution’s] laboratory animal research programs and facilities aim to exceed regulatory agency standards” ( A culture of care usually includes: Strong institutional commitment to provide the resources and leadership necessary, such as ongoing communication from management that reinforces the commitment to animal welfare for all institutional stakeholders (scientists, technicians, shareholders, and the public). Creation of an environment where staff feel empowered to come forward with any concerns or suggestions they have to improve the animal care and use program and that respects and nurtures staff compassion. Mechanisms to support open communications on all aspects of the program. A well-defined program of training on aspects of animal care and use, including ethics for all employees (from animal care technicians to top research scientists) and mechanisms to ensure competency. Programs that recognize excellence in animal care and use. Empowerment of animal welfare oversight committees, such as the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), Ethics Committees (ECs), and Animal Welfare Bodies (AWBs). Commitment to, and proactive implementation of, the 3Rs. The productivity of any enterprise is, ultimately, dependent on the culture established to drive its success (Kunda 2006). Biomedical advances in a research culture are a significant aspect of their measure of productivity, and as a result, these advances continue to improve and save human and animal lives. There are still many unmet medical needs for both people and animals. Therapeutic discoveries are necessary to address these various diseases and disorders. The research community cannot provide the cures and treatments needed without collecting scientific data in both preclinical animal studies and human clinical trials, which both must adhere to high scientific and ethical standards as described in good laboratory practice (GLP) and good clinical practice (GCP) regulations, respectively (FDA 2001). The miracles of tomorrow depend on ongoing innovations in biomedical research progress today (Brouwers et al. 2011). Caring for research animals can present a variety of emotional challenges for research and laboratory animal professionals (AALAS 2013); however, a strong culture of care that supports the overall well-being of all the animals and people involved in biomedical discovery may drive productivity in unprecedented ways. This chapter elaborates on the important components described above, providing examples and suggestions for how a culture of care can be incorporated into any animal care and use program, regardless of size or scientific mission.

© 2018 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

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