Why humane endpoints?

Humane endpoints can become relevant when moral, scientific or legal considerations have to be taken into account.

  1. Moral considerations:
    • ​the laboratory animal is experiencing more pain, suffering, or chronic distress than can be justified;
    • the animal is no longer able to perform important activities and behaviors due to pain or distress. 
  2. Scientific considerations:
    • the scientific objectives of the experiment have been met and keeping the animal in experiment has no additional value to the results of the study, or may even interfere with the results;
    • it is clear that the objectives of the experiment cannot be met;
    • keeping the animal  alive may lead to loss of data (for instance, when the animal dies in the cage it may be autolytic when going for pathology or it may be cannibalized by cage mates).  
  3. Legal considerations:​
    • 'Member States shall ensure refinement of breeding, accommodation and care, and of methods used in procedures, eliminating or reducing to the minimum any possible pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm to the animals' (Council Directive 2010/63/EU, art.4.3.);
    • 'Death as an endpoint to a procedure shall be avoided as far as possible and replaced by earlier and humane endpoints. Where death as the endpoint is unavoidable, the procedure shall be designed so as to:​
      • result in the death of as few animals as possible; and
      • reduce the duration and intensity of suffering to the animals to the minimum possible and, as far as possible, ensure a painless death' (Council Directive 2010-63-EU, art.13.3).