"They've seen 60 Minutes or an episode of 20/20, and they say things like 'I've heard you shoot monkeys.' Those are the ones who make me sarcastic, and I have to watch it. They make the majority of us really defensive. But these are people who can be converted. They're basically clever, intelligent people; they just don't know anything about your area. If you're willing to educate them, they'll become allies.
The biggest problem we run into when we talk about our jobs in
animal research is that we tend to defend our positions as if they were shameful. But look at the big picture, at what your work leads to. If you are unable to summon up pride before you talk to someone, then you are in the wrong job. And the animals deserve better.
That doesn't mean you can't have doubt and bad days. I remember euthanizing a rat colony once; almost a hundred rats in just an hour. I was depressed. But overall, I'm intensely proud of what I do.
I for one am really happy to know that if I cry and mascara gets in my eyes, I'm not going to go blind. When I was in high school I had awful acne--open-wounds-on-face kind of acne, and I slathered anything on there that might work. I am way happy now to know that I was safe at the time, and that those years of putting things on open wounds is not going to affect me in the long run.
Sometimes, probably at night, with a cat sitting on my lap--which I love dearly--sometimes it will really hit hard. You can't argue against it."