Introduction

Individuals who work with laboratory animals must have appropriate skills and qualifications for performing experimental procedures on animals. This requirement is derived from national laws and regulations relating to the protection of research animals, although the laws of individual geographical regions may define this requirement differently. Despite differences in the text of the laws, the intent and rationale of each law are the same. The proper training of individuals to handle and restrain animals and to perform experimental procedures is essential for fulfilling legal requirements that laboratory animals be treated humanely when used for research, testing, and education. Insufficient training is known to result in substantial harm to animals and may cause occupational injuries from animal scratches and bites.

Competence in animal methodologies is also recognized for benefitting in the outcome of research and testing. Changes in the physiological status of research animals may have an impact on research data as sources of nonexperimental variation. Inadequate handling and poor methodology, which may distress and even injure an animal, may alter the immune system due to chronic stress and may activate inflammation due to injury or infection (see also Chapter 18).

Although the intent of each nation's laws may be similar, the approach toward training differs among countries or regions. Differences in the specifics of laws and regulations have led to the development of different systems for complying with these requirements. The first two sections of this chapter describe the system of training in Europe and the United States. The third section addresses training resources that are useful for complementing a training program. Many countries require competence of staff in contact with laboratory animals, but the present chapter is focused on conditions in Europe and the U.S.

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