Access to safe and reliable modes of transportation for research animals, including air transport, is critical to medical and scientific discoveries. Animals serve as research models in the search for cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and many more. By helping scientists to understand disease processes and develop treatments and cures, animal studies play an important role in improving the health of both humans and animals.
Researchers studying a particular health problem need access to the most relevant animal model for the study of that condition. Air transportation makes these animal models of disease available when and where they are needed. Rapid and secure transportation of research animals not only reduces the total number of research animals required, it also means less discomfort and distress for the animals themselves.
Air transportation of research animals is subject to a multiplicity of regulations to ensure the safety of the animals as well as cargo and baggage handlers, passengers and crew. Regrettably, the very complexity of these regulations creates a disincentive for airlines to transport the animals. Moreover, in recent years, some who oppose any research with animals have been pressuring airlines to halt such shipments. In some cases they have used extreme tactics that amount to bullying or worse.
Air transportation is essential so scientists can work with animal models that otherwise would not be available for life-saving research. Moreover, it is the most humane transportation option for the animals themselves. The APS calls therefore upon regulators, research sponsors and transporters to take steps to ensure that air transportation of animals can continue.
Approved by the American Physiological Society Council June 30, 2014