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December 10, 2009

The HSUS Urges Universities to Adopt Policy Prohibiting Severe Research Animal Suffering

The Humane Society of the United States urges Illinois State University and the University of Richmond to adopt a policy ensuring that no laboratory animals in their care experience severe and unrelieved pain and distress.

Earlier this year, The HSUS sent letters to Illinois State University and the University of Richmond asking them if they had, or would be willing to adopt, a policy that the animals in their laboratories would not be subjected to research or conditions that would cause severe and unrelieved pain or distress. To date, the universities have not confirmed that they have, or would be willing to adopt, a policy ensuring no severe lab animal suffering at their institutions.

"It is critical for research institutions to take a proactive role in preventing animal suffering, which is an issue of major public concern in regards to animal research," said Martin Stephens, Ph.D., vice president of animal research issues for The HSUS. "This is a common-sense policy that should be readily adopted by institutions."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture regulates animal research under the Animal Welfare Act. However, federal law does allow animal research involving severe and unrelieved pain and distress. Therefore, following federal guidelines is not enough to prevent severe animal suffering.


  • Fifty-four U.S. colleges and universities have let us know that they have policies preventing severe and unrelieved animal pain and distress. These institutions include James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.), Alabama A&M University (Normal, Ala.), Ithaca College (Ithaca, N.Y.), Cardinal Stritch University (Milwaukee) and St. Joseph's University (Philadelphia), among others.
  • In an example of unrelieved pain and distress in an experiment performed by a university, 192 hamsters were infected with virus-induced encephalitis — a swelling of the brain due to an infection — at different doses to find what dose would kill 50 percent of the animals.
  • As part of an ongoing campaign to eliminate unrelieved pain and distress in lab animals, The HSUS has contacted about 600 institutions of higher learning in the United States that are currently registered with the USDA to do research on animals, and/or are receiving NIH funding to do animal research.


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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org. 

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