By: Meagan Shetler  Date: 12/21/2017 Category: | Animal Research | Animal Rights Extremism |


This word is sadly sort of new to us in the industry, but we need to take it seriously.

I truly believe we are making progress with the general public, but do I just think so because I have adopted this word as a way of living? I didn’t always. I used to avoid mentioning my work—only answering with a vague, “I work at the University,” when asked what I do. I bought into our industry’s common theme of not telling, not speaking, and not sharing. I let fear have control. Hiding and avoiding help no one.

I took a chance not too long ago, and I talked to the media. My co-workers feared for my life. They were convinced that the University had handed me a death sentence when they allowed the press into my dog playroom for a brief interview and the video was posted online. And after that, I got to write for them and tell the public even more about us. I told my co-workers it was an opportunity—an opportunity to make a small change for us, for the public, for the animals, and for the greater good for everyone, even if it was slightly risky for me. I also told them I truly believe that truth is always worth it. I told them I wasn’t letting fear be in charge anymore—especially with the not so often granted permission from the people in charge.

Beagle playing with kong.


What did happen was dialogue opened up. Granted it all happened on computer screens, but it happened all the same. People asked legitimate questions, raised legitimate concerns. I will grant “legitimate” to every concern—no matter how outlandish to us. To us it seems ridiculous, but we must remember that the public has only ever heard one side…the “animal rights” side, the extremist side, not the true side—not our side. It makes perfect sense for the public to be concerned about something about which they are lied to—shame on the scare tactics those groups use. It also makes perfect sense for the public to be concerned about something they are kept in the dark about—shame on us for not talking!

I was at a national laboratory organization meeting recently, and on my way to a session I was stopped by someone associated with this meeting and strongly encouraged to remove my identifying name badge as there were protestors present at the convention center. My first reaction was gladness actually: I was excited to have an opportunity to practice this transparency again! Unfortunately, they were gone by the time I arrived and my opportunity was missed. My disappointment was doubled by the fact that my own people told me to hide. It turns out that these “protestors” were kids with cardboard signs—the perfect forum, the perfect place to start—the minds of the young. Shame on us again for missing that chance; and I wish so badly I had been there just a little earlier.

At this same meeting I also met people whose facilities and leadership have banned them from speaking out—or speaking at all. People who work in this industry being restricted to absolute silence all around me was a frustrating experience. I wanted to follow them all back to work and tell their management that I spoke, that people heard it, and I’m still here! Our animals and our livelihoods are still safe, and the public we share our space with knows who we are, and knows that we care about what we are doing and what they want to know. I want everyone in our industry to understand that the fear that we hold onto as protection isn’t really protecting us at all, and only our truth can free us from its control. Our silence isn’t ok, and I don’t want to see any more of our community bound to it by anyone anymore.

Swiss Webster mice are currently invaluable in drug safety evaluations.


This word is the only key to changing opinions about what we do and why we are doing it. Our industry has got to get a good grasp on this word and how to use it. Talk. Listen. Respond. And when we respond, it must be honest and real. The truth and our ability to share it is the most powerful force we have to incite positive change. Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.

All photos courtesy of Americans for Medical Progress.

About The Author

Meagan Shetler's photo
Meagan Shetler - LATG
Meagan Shetler is a laboratory animal technician (LATG) with 12 years of experience in the husbandry side of the biomedical research industry. She is currently a supervisor of over 4 facilities, which include all USDA species. She was a licensed veterinary technician prior to entering this field, and has worked in rescue and foster for dogs, cats, and exotic pets, and she continues…

All Authors Of This Article: | Meagan Shetler |
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