Codecasa, E., Pageat, P., Marcet-Rius, M. et al. 2021. Legal frameworks and controls for the protection of research animals: A focus on the animal welfare body with a French case study. Animals 11(3), 695.
In recent years, efforts have been devoted to improving the welfare of laboratory animals. Scientific progress and growing concerns over animal harm have pushed institutions to strengthen their laws to make science more humane and responsible. European Directive 2010/63/EU makes it mandatory for breeders, suppliers and users of laboratory animals to have an animal welfare body (AWB) to prioritize animal welfare and harmonize experimental standards while reassuring the public that research is being carried out appropriately. Based on application of the three Rs (refinement, reduction and replacement), these bodies provide staff with oversight and advisory functions to support compliance with the legal requirements on both animal housing and project realization. This review aims to present the legal measures protecting research animals, with a focus on European AWBs. The review explains how the mission of AWBs includes development of environmental enrichment programs and how animal training generates benefits not only for animal welfare but also for the research work environment and research quality. A French case study is conducted to provide the scientific community with an example of an AWB’s functioning and activities, share its achievements and propose some perspectives for the future.