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Taking Animal Welfare Seriously Minimizing Pain and Distress in Research Animals

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Both laypersons and scientists alike are uncomfortable with animal research when it causes animals to suffer. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has launched our Pain & Distress Initiative to work with the scientific community to eliminate significant laboratory animal suffering by the year 2020. This goal is consistent with public opinion on animal research and with laws, regulations, and guidelines governing the conduct of animal research. While eliminating significant animal suffering in the laboratory is an ambitious target, what is needed along the way is a focused, urgent effort to recognize, alleviate, and prevent such suffering, so that science can progress without causing pain and distress to animals.
Polls have begun to document the influence of animal suffering on people's views toward animal research. For example, a recent poll (Aldous, Coghlan, and Copley, 1999) found
that the British public's support for research on mice or monkeys declines 16% to 35% (depending on the species and field of research) when the animals are subjected to pain,
illness, or surgery (factors associated with suffering). Similarly, American psychologists' and psychology students' support of animal research declines 43% to 50% (depending on the species) when asked to compare research involving caging or confinement and research involving pain and death (Plous 1996a, 1996b). The contrast between the media's (and public's) responses to two high profile cases of research in the 1980s (Baby Fae and the University of Pennsylvania Head Trauma lab) also illustrates the importance of the perceived level of animal suffering. 


Katie Carroll

Date April 2000
Edition 2
Publisher ARI Reports and Publications
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal care
  2. Animal welfare
  3. Distress
  4. Health
  5. minimization
  6. Pain