Dell RB.

Publication Details

Welcome. The purpose of this workshop is to talk to representatives of the USDA about principles and definitions pertaining to the recognition and alleviation of pain and distress in laboratory animals. Several questions are related:

  • Can we compose a definition?
  • Can we produce language that will inform both the people who will carry out the regulations and the people who will inspect the process to determine whether, indeed, the institution is responding to the regulations appropriately?

An underlying question is:

  • Can we come up with language or words that go across all species or should we choose language that is somewhat dependent on the species we are describing.

This workshop provides an opportunity for the speakers and members of the audience to engage in a discussion of the definitions of pain, distress, and how one can recognize and alleviate the pain and distress that can occur in the course of using animals in biomedical research as well as in education and testing. The purpose of the workshop is to focus on the proposed wording for the USDA to use in writing regulations that will implement the Animal Welfare Act. Because the Animal Welfare Act contains the phrase “pain and distress,” the USDA must define those terms to implement the act.

I want to thank all of you for coming and participating in this important event. We have organized the program to have presentations by people on the regulatory side first and then presentations by people who are students of animal welfare/animal behavior as well as pain physiology. The latter part of the program will involve people who will build on the foregoing presentation and will propose language and definitions for possible use in policies and in regulations.

In 1992, ILAR published a report titled Recognition and Alleviation of Pain and Distress in Laboratory Animals (NRC 1992). Other questions we should address today are the following:

  • Are the principles and definitions articulated in that report still current?
  • Can they be used by practitioners and by researchers to evaluate and treat pain and distress in the laboratory animals they are using?
  • Are the principles and the language in that report clear (unambiguous) enough for the USD A to use in their policies and regulations?

If not, then one of the tasks of ILAR will be to set up a committee to revise that report for consistency with modern and current thinking. That matter is another aspect of today’s workshop.

I would now like to introduce Dr. Ron DeHaven, who is well known to everyone in the room. Dr. DeHaven is Deputy Administrator of Animal Care for USDA/APHIS.


  • NRC [National Research Council] Recognition and Alleviation of Pain and Distress in Laboratory Animals. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press; 1992.