LAVA fully supports the principles of the 3Rs within animal research. These comprise:
- Replacement of the use of live animals within research wherever possible by the use of valid non-animal methods;
- Reduction in the numbers of animals used within studies to the minimum that will produce reliable results that are of acceptable quality;
- Refinement of methods and procedures where animals are used within research so that these are the least harmful possible that deliver the results needed.
The majority of LAVA members are employed as Named Veterinary Surgeons (NVS) at research establishments. The training, knowledge and skills of veterinary surgeons within these contexts mean that they are uniquely placed to promote animal welfare by giving informed help and advice on ways to provide environments that are comfortable for the types of animals used and in refining scientific methods to cause least impact, for example by minimising and treating any potential pain. LAVA members provide information and support to animal technicians who look after the animals on a day-to-day basis, to scientists engaged in research and to those responsible for managing research.
Under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act each institution using animals in research is legally required to have an Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB) in place and the NVS plays an essential part in this process to achieve good welfare and science:
- Advising on best possible animal welfare and making informed assessments on the potential suffering of an animal and how this could be minimised;
- Assisting the researchers to identify the likely adverse effects of planned procedures and advise on how those effects can be mitigated or prevented;
- Considering the possible harms and potential benefits of the use of animals in studies to ensure that this use is ethically justified;
- Being involved in the education and training of those in carrying out animal research.