ing them passively, even though the latter approach might result in missing something serious. While there exists a growing body of scientific evidence (for example see Bayne et al. 2002; EEC 1986; Kaliste 2004; Morton 2002), it is important to approach continuing attempts to establish what is in the best interests of animals with rigorous scientific interdisciplinary methods. Even experts such as veterinarians, ethologists, and animal welfare scientists have to guard against the twin traps of anthropomorphism and anthropocentrism when interpreting such data (Bradshaw and Casey 2007).

  • The use of experimental designs currently used for human research may offer new insights and opportunities in studies that depend on laboratory animals and should be further explored. Epidemiological approaches can help identify management and biological factors involved in the etiology of problem behaviors (McGreevy et al. 1995; Nicol et al. 2003), and matched-pair designs may allow for smaller sample sizes because of their powerful capacity (Würbel and Garner 2007).


The following recommendations are the intellectual product of this Committee’s deliberations; however, we acknowledge some overlap with the recent report of the Working Group on Animal Distress in the Laboratory (Brown et al. 2006).

  1. The Three Rs (refinement, reduction, and replacement) should be the standard for identifying, modifying, avoiding, and minimizing most causes of distress in laboratory animals. While research on distress and methods of alleviating distress (e.g., the development of anesthesia or analgesia) may unavoidably cause animal suffering, the optimum goal of research and veterinary teams should be to reduce and alleviate distress in laboratory animals to the minimum necessary to achieve the scientific objective.

  2. Protocols should include efforts to improve housing and husbandry conditions through the judicious employment of strategies for enrichment, animal training, and socialization. Well-trained, 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.

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