APHIS to define animal pain, distress

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The USDA-APHIS is considering several changes to the Animal Welfare regulations to promote the humane treatment of live animals used in research, testing, and teaching, and to improve the quality of information reported to Congress concerning animal pain and distress.

Although the word "distress" is used throughout the Animal Welfare regulations, it is not defined. The addition of such a definition would clarify what the federal government considers to be "distress" and could help assist research facilities recognize and minimize distress in animals in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act.

Also under consideration is replacing or modifying the system used to classify animal pain and distress. Professional standards regarding the recognition and relief of animal pain and distress have changed substantially since APHIS established its classification system. Some biomedical researchers and animal welfare advocates believe the system is outdated and inadequate.

A different system could produce data that better depict the nature of animal pain or distress, and provide a better tool to measure efforts made to minimize these conditions at research facilities.

The deadline for comments is Sept 8.

Send comments and three copies to Docket No. 00-005-1, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Suite 3C03, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Comments must include the docket number.

For additional information, contact Dr. Jodie Kulpa, Staff Veterinarian, AC, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 84, Riverdale, MD 20737-1234; (301) 734-7833.