Assistance for Members Under Attack
We support and protect the well-regulated and humane use of animals in research. However, despite our adherence to ethical policies and guidelines, as well as our efforts to promote awareness of the benefits of using animals in research, animal rights organizations and other activists will still attack the work of researchers. Examples of actions taken include:
- The distribution of printed materials: It’s common for organizations to distribute brochures and leaflets that disparage animal research. These materials frequently contain inaccurate information. They are sent out to host institutions, federal, local, and state governments, and even the researcher’s own neighborhood.
- A lab break-in: Activists have been known to break into a researcher’s lab in attempts to damage or destroy research that uses animals.
- Inflammatory letters: Local newspapers will publish letters by activists decrying animal research and targeting scientists.
Scientists should view any of these actions as an attack, and take measures accordingly. The most common sign that you will need to defend your work, however, is a request from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to release your federally-funded grant application and reports. Under current guidelines, your entire grant application file will need to be released. If you receive a FOIA request, please prepare to defend your work by taking the following steps.
Contact Your Institution and Make a Plan
Make contact with your institution’ Animal Care and Use representative and take the following actions:
- Tell them exactly what happened. If a crisis has occurred, discuss the location, names, and number of people involved. If there is no crisis, voice your concerns.
- Ask them how they usually handle these incidents, and what precautions you can take.
- Review the animal use file. Make sure all necessary information is documented and updated.
- Determine what information still needs to be collected and reviewed.
- Specify what responses will be given to specific allegations. Confirm a designated spokesperson, and determine the type of press releases, as well as timing.
Once you’ve completed these actions, be sure to also:
- Notify the media and/or public relations office: Activists often contact these offices to try and elicit damaging comments on animal research. Contact these offices, explain your concern, and come up with a plan for how to respond to any requests for media comments.
- Notify security: Activists have been known to break into labs and cause damage. Notify security so that they are aware of any risks.
Inform Your Funding Source
Contact your funding source as soon as possible. Officials are often able to provide valuable forms of support, including:
- Letters highlighting the importance of your research
- Documentation of compliance with federal legislation on the care and use of animals
Voice your concerns, and ask for their help.
Contact Us and Our Partners
We have experience and resources for dealing with animal rights activists. Actions to take include:
- Contact our Director of Advocacy and Training: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 962-4000.
- Contact the National Association for Biomedical Research: Email email@example.com or call (202) 857-0540.
Check out our partners: Information on state organizations, government agencies, as well as national and international organizations.