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The refinement of husbandry and procedures to reduce animal suffering and improve welfare is an essential component of humane science. Successful refinement depends upon the ability to assess animal welfare effectively, and detect any signs of pain or distress as rapidly as possible, so that any suffering can be alleviated. This document provides practical guidance on setting up and operating effective protocols for the welfare assessment of animals used in research and testing. It sets out general principles for more objective observation of animals, recognizing and assessing indicators of pain or distress and tailoring these to individual projects. Systems for recording indicators, including score sheets, are reviewed and guidance is set out on determining practical monitoring regimes that are more likely to detect any signs of suffering. This guidance is intended for all staff required to assess or monitor animal welfare, including animal technologists and care staff, veterinarians and scientists. It will also be of use to members of ethics or animal care and use committees. A longer version of this document, with further background information and extra topics including training and information sharing, is available on the Laboratory Animals website.


open access report