I was super excited that I managed to do stereotactic surgeries on rats and actually got a pat on the back from my supervisor for that. He thought I performed them really well and would reach perfection with a little more practise. I was overjoyed, mainly because being good at rat surgeries means minimal discomfort for the animals. I feel guilty enough working with animals without having to cause them tremendous pain.
Today when I walked in, I got the news that one of the rats I had done surgery on died. He never woke up from the anesthesia shot. My supervisor speculated it was mainly due to the potency of the anesthetic that we use (which has a history of animals that don't wake up). He said that one of the rats he had done surgery on had also met with the same fate. But I feel personally responsible for the little guy's death, no matter what the supervisor thinks is the reason.
I turned to vegetarianism a few months ago to compensate me working with animals and sacrificing them to harvest their brains and collect data.
I'm not so sure if that alone is enough anymore. But I also dont know what else I can do to make up for killing animals in the name of science.
What bothers me the most is that if I continue to work in a lab dealing with animals, there will come a time when killing animals or having unsuccessful surgeries is just another day in the office. The day when I stop feeling bad for these animals and become dispassionate about the whole deal scares the crap out of me.
The worst part is, that day will come, for sure.