TABLE 3 Gaps in the Current System

  • The P/Da classifications reported are a mixture of prospective expectations of pain and distress and retrospective observed pain and distress.

  • Pain and distress are not differentiated when classifying or reporting.

  • Pain- and distress-relieving measures other than drugs are not recognized in the regulations.

  • Effectiveness of P/D relief is not addressed.

  • Timeliness of P/D relief is not addressed.

  • Intensity and duration of P/D are not addressed.

  • No category exists for animals not benefiting from pain-relieving medications but for which there was no prohibition to their use.

aP/D, pain and/or distress.

Listed in Table 3 are some of the gaps or areas where we think our current system may not be adequate and therefore may provide a reason for changing those categories. First, the pain and distress classifications reported are a mixture of prospective expectations, or prospective reporting of pain and distress, and retrospective reporting based on actual observations. Maybe this is as it should be, a mixture; or maybe it should all be retrospective reporting. This is one of the areas where we need to have some dialogue.

The current system does not differentiate between pain and distress. Maybe it is not necessary that we do; maybe we should. Again, I think this debate is an area for dialogue.

It does not officially recognize pain-relieving measures other than the use of anesthetics, analgesics, or tranquilizers. Clearly, other methods, whether they are chemical or nonchemical, have the potential to reduce or alleviate pain or distress.

The effectiveness of the pain and distress relief that is utilized is not addressed. So, to provide a ridiculous example, one could perform thoracic surgery on an animal, provide postoperative analgesia consisting of an aspirin, and perhaps appropriately categorize that in Column D. I think that is subject to debate, but there is nothing in the regulation that requires any evaluation of whether a particular pain and distress relief was effective.

Timeliness is another issue. Is the pain-relieving medication given as soon as, or before, the animal actually perceives pain and distress, or does it occur afterward? If so, how long afterward?

The current system does not address intensity of pain or the duration of the pain or distress. I think it is important to recognize that an animal experiencing moderate pain for a prolonged period of time may need to be categorized differently from an animal experiencing intense pain but only for 1 or 2 seconds.

The final gap in the current system is slightly more difficult to understand. This complex issue has only recently come to light. Specifically, there is currently

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