The process of transporting animals is complex and time consuming. In order to capture the many practical suggestions provided by speakers and attendees, the leaders of the workshop compiled a list presented in Box 9-1. A more elaborate presentation in the form of a Transportation Checklist is included in Appendix C.
In his closing remarks, Robert Dysko, professor and director of the Unit for Laboratory Animal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, began by noting how valuable the workshop had been: “We are starting by educating ourselves, and then, hopefully, we will be able to go outside and start educating others.”
Dysko, who also serves on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, believes the scientific community needs to continue to generate support for animal-based research and for the transportation needed to do that research. In part, this requires continuing a dialogue with airline companies in an effort to persuade more of them to transport laboratory animals. At the same time, a contingency plan needs to be established to replace commercial airlines as the primary means to transport animals across long distances, Dysko said. “Just pretending that some airline is going to turn around and start taking animals is not the way to go.”
Dysko also talked about the “mind-boggling directives” of so many organizations with oversight of animal transport and the confusion in knowing what applies in any individual situation. No single answer fits every situation, he observed. Rather, every time the country, the species, or the route of transport changes, something different needs to be done. This complexity calls for the development of a handbook or educational materials that can guide all stakeholders in the transport of laboratory animals. In particular, such a handbook could serve as a guide to help shipping coordinators in academic and research institutions navigate the complex process of transporting animals.
In his closing comment, Dysko urged animal researchers to communicate with the public about their work, including the process of safely transporting the laboratory animals, which plays such a key role in identifying new therapies and curing diseases.
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