“Recognizing Pain and Distress in Laboratory Animals” in ILAR Journal. These publications listed acceptable, realistic, believable signs of pain and even distress in rodents and rabbits. Those lists are of critical importance and should be assembled, reviewed, and known much more widely by those who use rabbits and rodents in teaching and research. The challenge is to inculcate into our institutions those signs and their significance. Some investigators do not always listen or read their mail. My experiences in 1947 in Edgewater Park continue in our animal facilities.
I alone at this session, with the possible exception of Dr. Karas from Tufts, am involved full time working as a Johnny-on-the-spot, university-wide laboratory animal veterinarian with mostly veterinarians as investigators. Despite how you react to Trent Lott, the movies about Mississippi, or the many Connie Chung-Dan Rather magazine shows about Mississippi, our college of veterinary medicine has a fine facility, faculty, and staff. We are fully accredited by everybody interested, including AAALAC. The research investigators and active coinvestigators often have veterinary and PhD degrees, private and institutional practice experience, and speciality boards. They do not see distress and pain as I do, however, and both in 1994 and in 1997 our surgeons and anesthesiologists argued vigorously with the AAALAC visitors over valid signs of pain (no one mentioned distress) and what to do, if anything, with analgesics. Non-pain induced distress was never mentioned. Their position was to use “when needed” or “professional judgment, ” popular catch words in our domain, to determine when pain relief was appropriate and when it was not. The revised USDA Policy 3, especially the section on records, which I have placed under their noses at least three times, does not impress them; only intensive IACUC oversight of protocols and procedures, very time consuming, gets their attention. Now the HSUS draft proposal comes along and tells me that even our IACUC's and my rather strict placement of procedures into the usual pain categories nowhere meets the level of recognition of emotional distress and perceived pain that is standard in Europe. I wonder how we would rank with the norms in the advanced cultures of Asia, Africa, Southern Europe, and Latin America.
One of our best clinical researchers, with a PhD in pharmacology from the University of Illinois, e-mailed me last week saying, “ John, enough is enough” when I told him to refine and describe his potentially painful surgical procedures on dogs that would not recover from anesthesia. He told me to do it; he apologized later. He remains a believer in the outdated concept of a vertical phylogenetic scale. Even our experienced 15-person IACUC is refractory to expanded legal promulgations, and instead the committee champions professional judgment because they have been given that encouragement on many occasions. I myself can still manage to influence the committee and meet the mark, almost, because I