Development of the Human-Research Animal Bond and Its Impact on Animal Well-being
For millennia, relationships have developed between animals and people through the context of work, sport, companionship, or some combination of these activities. Often, a bond between animal and human results that is based on affection and/or respect. In the research environment, it is not uncommon for a bond to develop between the investigator, veterinarian, and/or animal care technicians and the animals with which they work; and such a bond can be just as strong for a mouse as it is for a
... e as it is for a dog. Circumstances that foster the formation of these bonds include the close and frequent contact between the researchers and their animals during studies or during training of animals to particular tasks, the long periods of time many research animals live in the facilities (often years), the dependency of the animals on the animal care staff for their daily needs, and the veterinarian/patient relationship, which is not unlike that of private practitioners and client-owned animals. In addition, overlaying the fundamental relationship with the research animal are special bonds that can form with certain animals. Among those that engender a special attachment are animals that are particularly friendly, amusing, or intelligent; animals requiring extra supportive care; animals that show courage; animals that represent a milestone in a particular scientific advancement; and animals that reflect humans' own strengths and foibles. The development of these relationships is enriching to both personnel and animals inasmuch as people who care about their animals are committed to promoting and ensuring the well-being of those animals.