competent, and attentive research and animal care personnel are crucial in providing relief from unintended distress that originates from the care and use of laboratory animals.
Institutional support for and embrace of a commitment to animal welfare of the laboratory animals is essential. Veterinarians and animal care personnel who work with research animals on a daily basis should have adequate time and contact with the animals to properly evaluate their well-being. Funding for training programs is crucial to the training and development of specialized laboratory animal veterinarians and animal behaviorists and should increase, because in addition to such objective measurements as weight loss or lack of grooming, clinical judgment is vital to effective assessments of stress and distress.
Appropriate statistical methodologies are an essential tool for the avoidance, minimization, and alleviation of distress.
There should be a clearinghouse (or some other venue such as a website or a specialized peer-reviewed journal) for publication of research on the effects of enrichment strategies on parameters such as physiology, distress, and endpoints for all laboratory animals (one useful example is the Primate Enrichment Database hosted by the Animal Welfare Institute).1 Although a variety of journals (such as Lab Animal, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Animal Welfare, Laboratory Animals, Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science, Comparative Medicine) publish research pertaining to animal welfare, the highly specialized nature of the field makes it difficult for the larger scientific community to remain informed about recent advances and ongoing debates. Peer-reviewed biomedical research journals should be more open to submissions from scientists whose research focuses on animal welfare issues so that concerns about research interference or unjustified expenses can be debated on scientific, ethical, or regulatory grounds.
Obtaining funding for welfare research is often difficult, especially when project applications compete against other fields of science due to lack of an appropriate/separate research oversight body. In the United Kingdom the funds available for welfare research have increased dramatically with the founding of the National Center for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in