Lab Animal Caregivers Share Insights in New LAREF Volume

AWI is pleased to announce publication of It’s Okay to Cry: Discussions by the Laboratory Animal Refinement & Enrichment Forum, Volume V.

Since 2002, AWI’s Laboratory Animal Refinement and Enrichment Forum (LAREF) has facilitated the sharing of ideas and experiences of animal care personnel who strive to improve the conditions under which all animals in research are housed and handled. Throughout the discussions, participants offer numerous insights into how best to meet the psychological and behavioral needs of various species in a laboratory setting.

This latest LAREF volume comprises conversations that took place on the forum from February 2016 through December 2019. As with the previous four LAREF compendiums, It’s Okay to Cry was edited by Dr. Viktor Reinhardt, the forum moderator and a member of AWI’s Scientific Committee.

The title of the book is a nod to discussion threads that appear in the book’s final chapter. These conversations examine the often-wrenching experience for caregivers when they form strong bonds with animals they know will die at the conclusion of the experiment. The threads examine how caregivers can express genuine emotions, avoid compassion fatigue, and steel themselves against unsympathetic colleagues and institutions that frown on outward exhibitions of grief over the loss of these animals. 

AWI offers It’s Okay to Cry at no cost to those who work with animals in research. The book is also available for free download as a PDF file at

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