Ending severe suffering
The level of pain or distress experienced by animals used in experiments depends upon the nature of the research, and within the European Union (EU) is classified as mild, moderate or severe. Any level of suffering is a concern for the RSPCA, but ending severe suffering is a top priority.
Working with the scientific community is very important if we are to produce innovative, challenging and feasible approaches to reducing and ultimately ending severe suffering.
What we are doing
We are developing and promoting ways of avoiding or reducing severe suffering, for which we need to identify:
- The kinds of procedures that can cause severe suffering
- The factors that combine to increase the level of suffering to severe, such as pain, anxiety, restrictions on good practice for housing, or procedures lasting a long time
- The purpose of severe procedures, for example some vaccine tests, or studies of painful or distressing medical disorders
- Any perceived obstacles to reducing suffering
- And most importantly - what can be done to overcome these obstacles?
We are currently researching the answers to these questions, which includes visiting a range of research establishments to discuss how they are tackling severe suffering and to collect case studies of successful solutions.
A series of RSPCA-led initiatives are already under way, including producing expert guidance for researchers on ways of reducing suffering in specific severe procedures; convening meetings and workshops on addressing severe suffering; and ensuring that the revised UK legislation on animal experiments is implemented so as to recognise, control and reduce severe suffering effectively.
We welcome invitations to visit establishments, further case studies or suggestions for topics or procedures that need to be addressed. Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of our publications
- Hawkins, P. et al (2015) 'Applying refinement to the use of mice and rats in rheumatoid arthritis research.' Inflammopharmacology 23(4), 131-150.
- Lilley, E. et al (2014). 'A 'Road Map' toward ending severe suffering of animals used in research and testing (PDF 80KB)'. ATLA 42(4), 267-272. This document is also available as a roadmap poster (PDF: 1.07 MB).
- Lilley, E. & Jennings, M. (2013). 'Refinement - Lessons from the 2012 Olympics'. PiLAS (ATLA) - August 2013.
- Lilley et al (2015). 'Refinement of animal models of sepsis and septic shock'. Shock 43(4), 304-316.
- Wolfensohn at al (2013). 'Reducing suffering in animal models and procedures involving seizures, convulsions and epilepsy'. Journal of Pharmacological & Toxicological Methods 67, 9–15.
- Wolfensohn et al (2013). 'Reducing suffering in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE)'. Journal of Pharmacological & Toxicological Methods 67, 169–176.
- IAT workshop report: Reducing severe suffering (2013) (PDF 144KB).