Animal Research beyond the Laboratory: Report from a Workshop on Places Other than Licensed Establishments (POLEs) in the UK
2. Materials and Methods
- How does the category of animal (e.g., pets, wild animals, those housed in zoos or farms) shape ethical obligations, veterinary treatment, and humane end-points? How does the A(SP)A manage these ethical obligations and influence decisions?
- How are boundaries drawn between work under and outside of the A(SP)A, and how do these boundaries shape research and animal welfare practice and regulation?
- How do the general public and other stakeholders engage with research at POLEs?
- How does taking scientific research with animals out of the laboratory shape the knowledge produced?
- How is research with animals outside of the laboratory best regulated?
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Practical and Ethical Contrasts between Research at POLEs and in the Laboratory
3.2. Transparency and Profile of POLEs
3.3. Ethical Review
3.4. Training, Competency, and Support
3.5. Regulation and Cultures of Care
3.6. Defining Science
- Support and training. It was agreed that further support and training networks would be helpful in allowing those working at POLEs under the A(SP)A to share experiences and best practice. Such networks would also ideally connect researchers working under the A(SP)A with those undertaking subthreshold research, such as veterinarians, citizen scientists, and ecological consultants.
- Ethical review. Workshop contributors were supportive of the idea that if they do not do so already, AWERBs should be encouraged to learn about how research may be described, peer-reviewed, approved, and carried out differently at POLEs compared with in laboratories. As part of this discussion, it was proposed that AWERBs could be encouraged to oversee animal research not falling under the A(SP)A such as work that is subthreshold, based overseas, or involving animal taxa such as insects and crustaceans not currently classified as protected under the A(SP)A. Some AWERBs already extend their mandates in this manner, although the scale of this extension is unknown. This echoes the idea that AWERBs should be viewed as hubs for ethics and welfare discussion [49,50].
- Cultures of care. It was proposed that methods for encouraging and ensuring harm−benefit analysis and attention to animal welfare within nonregulated work, such as the marking and tagging of wild animals not protected under the WCA, should be explored. This may involve regulation, or nonregulatory means of encouraging cultures of care such as the distribution of a plainly written and widely accessible guide that prompts consideration of ethics and purpose, although implementation and funding of such activities remain unclear.
- Setting of boundaries. Specific regulatory grey areas identified by some workshop participants relate to the boundaries set between research and practice, such as RVP. It was proposed that ambiguity relating to RVP should be clarified by the RCVS.
- Statistics and transparency. Some workshop attendees felt that it would be helpful to have access to further published statistics on the numbers of research projects and animals worked on in nonlaboratory settings, both for research carried out under the A(SP)A and subthreshold research, such as the trapping and marking of wildlife performed by citizen scientists and ecological consultants. This might require not only action by the Home Office and SNCOs, but also the creation of a new database where work requiring no licenses could be registered. Although it remains unclear how such a project would be implemented, funded, and kept secure, there may be scope for enrolling established citizen science platforms such as Zooniverse (https://www.zooniverse.org/).
Conflicts of Interest
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Palmer, A.; Greenhough, B.; Hobson-West, P.; Message, R.; Aegerter, J.N.; Belshaw, Z.; Dennison, N.; Dickey, R.; Lane, J.; Lorimer, J.; Millar, K.; Newman, C.; Pullen, K.; Reynolds, S.J.; Wells, D.J.; Witt, M.J.; Wolfensohn, S. Animal Research beyond the Laboratory: Report from a Workshop on Places Other than Licensed Establishments (POLEs) in the UK. Animals 2020, 10, 1868. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101868
Palmer A, Greenhough B, Hobson-West P, Message R, Aegerter JN, Belshaw Z, Dennison N, Dickey R, Lane J, Lorimer J, Millar K, Newman C, Pullen K, Reynolds SJ, Wells DJ, Witt MJ, Wolfensohn S. Animal Research beyond the Laboratory: Report from a Workshop on Places Other than Licensed Establishments (POLEs) in the UK. Animals. 2020; 10(10):1868. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101868Chicago/Turabian Style
Palmer, Alexandra, Beth Greenhough, Pru Hobson-West, Reuben Message, James N. Aegerter, Zoe Belshaw, Ngaire Dennison, Roger Dickey, Julie Lane, Jamie Lorimer, Kate Millar, Chris Newman, Kirsten Pullen, S. James Reynolds, Dominic J. Wells, Matthew J. Witt, and Sarah Wolfensohn. 2020. "Animal Research beyond the Laboratory: Report from a Workshop on Places Other than Licensed Establishments (POLEs) in the UK" Animals 10, no. 10: 1868. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101868