Document Type


Publication Date



It is widely agreed, and often legally required, that distress and pain in research animals should be minimized--for the sake of animal welfare, ethical obligation, and public concern, as well as scientific quality. As testimony to the importance of distress and pain to stakeholders interested in research animals, many countries compile and publish annual statistics documenting overall patterns and trends on distress and pain in research animals.

We argue for a holistic approach to minimizing research animal suffering, with all relevant parties sharing in this responsibility. Researchers, laboratory personnel, oversight committees, and facility administrators are central to day-to-day animal care. Oversight agencies are key to animal welfare enforcement and annual reporting. Funding agencies can be instrumental by supporting pain- and distress-related research. Professional organizations can support training and develop best practices. Journals can stipulate authors' adherence to ethical codes and inclusion of pain- and distress-related information in published articles. Legislators can pass or amend laws to strengthen legislative mandates. And animal protection organizations can apply outside pressure to decision-makers for positive changes. In our view, much more can and should be done to minimize research animal suffering; we make several recommendations to improve this situation.