Ozzie and Goose are Trent’s resident alpacas and they live high up on East Bank, behind the Life & Health Sciences building. You may have met them—even done yoga with them!--but did you know they are also former research animals and are now used in teaching?
And did you know that making Ozzie and Goose, and other research and teaching animals, a part of the Trent community and learning experience requires a lot of work?
Animal Care cares a lot
This work is all led by Animal Care, a department that helps make teaching and research possible at Trent.
“Any teaching or research using animals requires approval based on the guidelines and regulations set by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC),” says Jason Allen, manager of Animal care.
Jason manages the facilities, personnel, and programming for animal science-related work in support of the Trent Animal Care Committee (ACC) and the Office of Research and Innovation. With a 24-year career with Animal Care at Trent, Jason knows how important it is to follow the CCAC’s rules.
“Many of our researchers working with animals receive funding from agencies such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council for their,” says Jason. “But so do a lot of other researchers whose work has nothing to do with animals. If someone working with animals under an NSERC grant is caught operating without an approved protocol, that could jeopardize the funding from those agencies for the whole university.”
The committee governing animal research at Trent
The ACC is responsible for reviewing, evaluating, and approving all animal research that happens at the University.
Your class is going into the field looking for salamanders? Your professor got the Animal Care Committee’s approval. Want to radio collar and track wild animals? The ACC approved the study. Doing lunchtime yoga on campus with alpacas? The ACC bends over backwards to make that possible.
The committee is made up of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, Jason, a compliance officer, and a community representative. Jason says the community representative is a vital part of the committee.
“They legitimize the whole process because they are unbiased about the research that is being done here,” says Jason. “They receive an honorarium for their involvement on the committee—it covers things like parking, printing, or other activities related to the ACC—but the time they volunteer for the role and their perspective is worth so much more.”
Increasing transparency in animal research
Animal research is always evolving and the conversation around animal care—whether in legislative spaces or the public discourse—is ongoing as techniques and technologies change around invasive and non-invasive techniques.
To support these conversations, Animal Care is committed to increasing transparency about the due diligence that underpins animal science.
The department has one of the largest collections of standard operation procedures at Trent, and they are working to make all of them accessible online.
“Part of my job is about protecting and advocating for animal rights,” Jason says. “We want to be part of discussions about animal research policy and legislation to support a balanced conversation about animal research and educate both academia and the general public.”