I woke up this morning with mixed emotions as I embarked upon my first day at a testing lab for botulinum toxin (botox for short). It was overwhelming – the maze of animal rooms, the noise, the smell and the clinical nature of everything.
Today I saw how they ‘minimised the suffering’ of mice during botox tests. A sick mouse was taken out into the corridor and held on the floor while a ball point pen was rolled over her neck to break it. The dead mouse was sealed in a plastic sandwich bag and then slung in the bin. The whole time, music was blaring in the background.
Apparently during the mouse injecting today, the needle broke off inside of one of the mice. Someone came into the room where I was working to get a ‘few spares’ - mice that is, not needles. This choice of wording suggests that they are viewed as expendable pieces of equipment much like the needles.
A large number of ‘stock mice’ were killed in a CO² chamber today. These are ‘spare’ mice kept in case they need substitutes, such as for injections that have gone wrong. After they were killed, I was given the gruesome task of counting and bagging them. Yet, in a way, these are the lucky ones. They didn’t have to endure days of suffering or death at the end of a cheap pen.
The observations of the test mice are little more than a token gesture and certainly do not prevent appalling suffering and death. There are more mice found dead in their cages than there are killed at the so-called humane endpoint. Today in one room, I noticed that 24 mice were found dead at one check whereas only 2 were killed to prevent further suffering. One member of staff actually said they die so fast you can’t keep up. I am sickened by the whole thing.
I was shocked by the uncaring attitude of one of the staff to the mice. I was present while she was being trained how to kill the sick mice. She was joking around while trying to break their necks treating it almost like a game. At one point she punched the air and shouted ‘wicked’ as she actually managed to kill the mouse successfully without breaking the animal’s back. She just didn’t seem to appreciate that she had a little life in her hands.