The Humane Society of the United States

Pain and Distress in Research Animals

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Imagine recovering from abdominal surgery with little or no pain medication. If you were an animal in a laboratory, you wouldn’t need to imagine. Stressful laboratory environments and harmful experiments can make life miserable. As long as animals are being used in experimentation, we will work—with your help—to eliminate their pain and distress.

Shocking as it may seem, researchers are allowed to perform experiments that cause unrelieved pain and distress to animals. They can claim that providing relief would interfere with the scientific goals of their experiment. But their justifications are often questionable. The result is that millions of animals suffer in U.S. laboratories every year.

Yet much of that suffering could be prevented by using pain medications, euthanizing animals before their suffering becomes prolonged, training an animal to cooperate with a procedure, or simply choosing a less harmful way to perform an experiment. Until the day that animals are no longer used in research, it’s crucial that we work to eliminate all pain and distress from their daily lives.

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