Greetings from San Diego, and the Henry Spira Memorial Lecture

By Anne Meade, web and distance education coordinator

This morning, the 2009 IACUC Conference began with the Eighth Annual Henry Spira Memorial Lecture. Henry Spira, ethicist, social justice advocate, and animal rights activist, is recognized at PRIM&R’s IACUC Conference for his ability to bring together those within the scientific and animal welfare communities who have often faced each other across a seemingly unbridgeable divide. This year’s lecture, Improving the Treatment of Animals: A Practical Perspective, was delivered by Temple Grandin.

She discussed her work in the livestock industry on facility design, handling, and animal welfare. Speaking to more than 600 IACUC professionals, she focused on two things: why those involved with animal research need to communicate the importance of their research, and the impact management has on the stress level of the animals being treated.

Although the livestock and animal research industries are both criticized, Dr. Grandin suggested that those who are reacting are not doing so correctly. “You need to show what you do in the lab so that those in the outside world have a better understanding,” she noted.

Dr. Grandin also explained how important it is for those who deal with animals, either in the laboratory or in the slaughterhouse, to be trained on how animals will react to situations. “The normal human mind drops the detail,” Dr. Grandin said, “but the animal’s mind is a mind of detail.”

Small changes to lighting or restraint technique, for example, could make a big difference in how well the animal cooperates. Dr. Grandin closed her talk by suggesting that more focus be put on improving management than adopting new technologies. “The attitude of the management is the single biggest factor that determines how animals are treated.”

PRIM&R was thrilled to feature Dr. Grandin and her important message during the conference. For those interested in learning more about Dr. Grandin, please visit her website.