Use of Spontaneous Behaviour Measures to Assess Pain in Laboratory Rats and Mice: How Are We Progressing?Submitted on May 30, 2014 (Original item from 2013) Animal Experimentation | General Animal Protection | Research Tools and Methods
This literature review discusses research on how to assess the pain experienced by mice and rats used in laboratory experiments. Methods discussed include observation of changes in locomotion, exercise, grooming and other behaviors, facial expression, sleep and vocalizations. Some of these techniques seem to be effective, but many require prohibitively attentive or invasive monitoring or are impacted by other aspects of the experiment. The author calls for additional research, especially into the detection of chronic pain, and wider use of analgesics.
Size Does Matter: The Effect of Enclosure Size on Aggression and Affiliation Between Female New Zealand White Rabbits During MixSubmitted on May 23, 2014 (Original item from 2013) Animal Experimentation | General Animal Protection | Research Tools and Methods
This study tested the effect of enclosure size on interactions of unacquainted female rabbits who were introduced as potential cagemates for social enrichment at research laboratories. Rabbits were introduced in two different-sized pens, and responded with more friendliness and less aggression in the larger pen. When the same pairs were again placed together in the other size of pen, they continued to interact as they had during their first meeting, even when the pen was larger upon their second meeting.
The efficacy of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) for humans has been studied, but research into its impact on the animals is limited. This Austrian pilot study measured dog behavioral and biochemical reactions during an AAT program for drug-addicted inpatients, carried out by teams of two therapists, one of whom was the dog's guardian, with groups of 8-10 patients. The dogs were therapy-certified, and participated in AAT regularly. No definitive signs of stress were found. The authors call for larger studies to address a broader range of variables, clarify the impact of AAT on dogs, and identify subtle indicators of discomfort that guardians can watch for.
This article argues that criteria used to protect vulnerable populations of humans from exploitation should be similarly applied to chimpanzees who are used for research. To accomplish this, the authors propose providing chimpanzees with independent guardians to act on their behalf, and designing experiments so that chimpanzees can withdraw their participation if they so choose. They also suggest regarding them as "animal patients," with ethical considerations and limitations applied as they are to human patients who participate in research.
This paper calls for more attention within the field of bioethics to animal death, and to the implications of related research for animal welfare. Animals' awareness of, and behavior in reaction to death, including death of humans and other animals, and anticipation of their own death is discussed. The author also cites research on animal emotions, empathy, social bonds, and grieving to argue that death is a psychological as well as a physical harm. In addition, she examines techniques and justifications for euthanasia, and questions whether a different term should be used for death administered to end animal suffering when the suffering was caused by experimentation.
The use of fish as a substitute for mammals in laboratories has skyrocketed into the millions. Little research has been done on the effects of anesthetics that are used on fish during surgical procedures and euthanasia. This study tested nine anesthetics on Danio zebrafish for reactions that indicated discomfort, distress or pain. Seven of the anesthetics, including two of the most widely used, caused aversive reactions. The authors conclude that they are inhumane, and should be discontinued. They also call for similar tests for other types of fish, since reactions can vary from species to species.
In 1999, a law against depictions of animal cruelty was enacted to criminalize fetish videos of women trampling small animals to death ("crush videos"). When it was applied in a case of dog-fighting videos (U.S. v. Stevens), the law was struck down for being overly broad, and a narrower law was enacted. The author analyzes underlying legal issues, especially whether animal protection can override free speech rights. Since the new law specifies a state interest in extreme cases of animal cruelty, the author argues that animal protection law was ultimately advanced due to the Stevens case, even though the conviction was thrown out.
This article discusses the evolution of cultural images of rodents from bearers of disease, to companion animals, to "equipment" for the eradication of human disease. The author focuses in particular on the language and imagery used to market specially bred rats and mice to researchers. She also explores ways in which rodents used in experiments lose their status as "animals," and as representatives of a species, as well as their status as individuals, exempting them from empathies and protections that are extended to other species.
From 2006 to 2010, the author of this essay observed scientists and technicians working on animal and human tissues at stem cell laboratories in the United Kingdom. She gathered field notes and quotes from lab personnel expressing their assumptions, concepts, values, and practices about the use of human tissue in research laboratories. Despite regulatory and conceptual reframing that should result in a reduction of animal research, it is in fact increasing in the UK. The author concludes that research labs are culturally complex organizations with many interdependencies which create incentives to prefer animal experimentation, and/or disincentives for human tissue experimentation. These larger systems must be addressed and adjusted to produce a real-world reduction of animal experimentation.
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