Brunt MW, Améndola L, Weary DM (2021) Attitudes of laboratory animal professionals and researchers towards carbon dioxide euthanasia for rodents and perceived barriers to change. Laboratory Animals. July 2021. doi:10.1177/00236772211025166
Abstract – Evidence indicates that carbon dioxide (CO2) induces negative affective states (including anxiety, fear and distress) in laboratory rodents, but many countries still accept it for euthanasia. Alternative methods (e.g. inhalant anaesthetic) may represent a refinement over CO2 but are not widely adopted. We conducted an online survey of Canadian and European laboratory animal professionals and researchers (n¼592) to assess their attitudes towards the use of CO2 and alternative methods for rodent euthanasia using quantitative 7-point scale (from 1 (¼ strongly oppose) to 7 (¼ strongly favour) and qualitative (open-ended text) responses. CO2 was identified as the most common method used to kill rodents, and attitudes towards this method were variable and on average ambivalent (meanSD score on our 7-point scale was 4.41.46). Qualitative analysis revealed four themes relating to participant attitude: (a) the animal’s experience during gas exposure; (b) practical considerations for humans; (c) compromise between the animal’s experience and practical considerations; and (d) technical description of the procedure or policies. Many participants (51%) felt that there were alternatives available that could be considered an improvement over CO2, but perceived barriers to implementing these refinements. Qualitative analysis of these responses revealed five themes: (a) financial constraints; (b) institutional culture; (c) regulatory constraints; (d) research constraints; and (e) safety concerns. In conclusion, concerns regarding the use of CO2 often focused on the animal’s experience, but barriers to alternatives related to operational limitations. New research is now required on to how best to overcome these barriers.