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People Find Love From Special Pets
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Laboratory animals need love just as much as do any family dog or cat. For the people who work daily with these animals, love is an easy gift to give and receive.
"We get so attached to these animals. They are just like our own children, except they mind better," said Kay Gray, laboratory animal technician at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "Identical animals are like a set of twins; when you know them well, you can tell them apart. They are unique individuals."
Dr. Karyl Buddington, clinical laboratory animal veterinarian at MSU, said the caregivers also are unique in their commitment to each animal's care.
"Technicians provide laboratory animals with as good or better treatment as the animals going through the clinic," Buddington said. "Compared to clinic reports, lab techs keep more detailed accounts of each animal's daily activities."
Those reports include specifics on each animal's meals, stools, medications, and physical and mental condition.
Buddington said only someone who knows an animal well can tell if it is depressed or in a good mood.
"We like good technicians to work here for years, not just months. These are the people who will pick up on any changes in the animal's personality," Buddington said.
Jason Peters, a certified veterinary technician at MSU, said lab animals frequently receive better care than do pets in many private homes.
Unlike some "latch-key" pets, animals that live at the veterinary college have frequent exercise sessions, regular check-ups, dental care and attention at the first sign of a problem.
"Excessive pain or stress is detrimental to any animal's health. We try to be extra sensitive to signs of pain and anticipate each animal's needs for medication," Peters said.
Gray said everyone should appreciate the value of these animals. Their role in research will have a long-term benefits for animals and people.
"They are giving mankind a priceless gift," Gray said. "Many of today's commonly used medical procedures began in veterinary colleges thanks to animals like these."