The Regulation of Animal Care and Use
Each institution with an animal care and use program is required to ensure that its program complies with applicable federal, state and local law and regulations. For example, this means that UTHSC must comply with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. The university gives its written guarantee that it complies with these regulations in an Assurance Letter and is thus an Assured Institution. UTHSC is also accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC). AAALAC accreditation is considered to be the gold standard for laboratory animal programs.
Regulatory and Accreditation Agencies
AAALAC is a private nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through a voluntary accreditation program. More than 650 companies, universities, hospitals, government agencies and other research institutions have earned AAALAC accreditation, demonstrating their commitment to responsible animal care and use. These institutions volunteer to participate in AAALAC's program, in addition to complying with the local, state and federal laws that regulate animal research. UTHSC has been AAALAC accredited since 1993.
When animals are used, AAALAC works with institutions and researchers to serve as a bridge between progress and animal well-being. This is done through AAALAC's voluntary accreditation process in which research programs demonstrate that they not only meet the minimums required by law, but are going the extra step to achieve excellence in animal care and use.
APHIS is responsible for protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, administering the Animal Welfare Act, and carrying out wildlife damage management activities. As a regulatory branch of the USDA it ensures, through annual inspections of animal facilities, that research institutions adhere to the guidelines of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Those institutions found not to be in compliance with the AWA may be fined or have their licenses revoked.
It is the Policy of the PHS to require institutions to establish and maintain proper measures to ensure the appropriate care and use of all animals involved in research, research training, and biological testing activities (hereinafter referred to as activities) conducted or supported by the PHS. The PHS endorses the "U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research, and Training" developed by the Interagency Research Animal Committee. This Policy is intended to implement and supplement those Principles. This Policy is applicable to all PHS-conducted or supported activities that involve animals, whether the activities are performed at PHS agencies, awardee institutions, or any other institution and that are conducted in the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any territory or possession of the United States. Institutions in foreign countries receiving PHS support for activities involving animals shall comply with this Policy, or provide evidence to the PHS that acceptable standards for the humane care and use of the animals in PHS-conducted or supported activities will be met. No PHS support for an activity involving animals will be provided to an individual unless that individual is affiliated with or sponsored by an institution which can and does assume responsibility for compliance with this Policy, unless the individual makes other arrangements with the PHS. This Policy does not affect applicable state or local laws or regulations that impose more stringent standards for the care and use of laboratory animals. All institutions are required to comply, as applicable, with the Animal Welfare Act, and other Federal statutes and regulations related to animal use. These regulations and other valuable information may be obtained by accessing the website of the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW).
U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research, and Training
The development of knowledge necessary for the improvement of the health and well-being of humans as well as other animals requires in vivo experimentation with a wide variety of animal species. Whenever U.S. Government agencies develop requirements for testing, research, or training procedures involving the use of vertebrate animals, the following principles shall be considered; and whenever these agencies actually perform or sponsor such procedures, the responsible Institutional Official shall ensure that these principles are adhered to:
- The transportation, care, and use of animals should be in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. 2131 et. seq.) and other applicable Federal laws, guidelines, and policies.*
- Procedures involving animals should be designed and performed with due consideration of their relevance to human or animal health, the advancement of knowledge, or the good of society.
- The animals selected for a procedure should be of an appropriate species and quality and the minimum number required to obtain valid results. Methods such as mathematical models, computer simulation, and in vitro biological systems should be considered.
- Proper use of animals, including the avoidance or minimization of discomfort, distress, and pain when consistent with sound scientific practices, is imperative. Unless the contrary is established, investigators should consider that procedures that cause pain or distress in human beings may cause pain or distress in other animals.
- Procedures with animals that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress should be performed with appropriate sedation, analgesia, or anesthesia. Surgical or other painful procedures should not be performed on unanesthetized animals paralyzed by chemical agents.
- Animals that would otherwise suffer severe or chronic pain or distress that cannot be relieved should be painlessly killed at the end of the procedure or, if appropriate, during the procedure.
- The living conditions of animals should be appropriate for their species and contribute to their health and comfort. Normally, the housing, feeding, and care of all animals used for biomedical purposes must be directed by a veterinarian or other scientist trained and experienced in the proper care, handling, and use of the species being maintained or studied. In any case, veterinary care shall be provided as indicated.
- Investigators and other personnel shall be appropriately qualified and experienced for conducting procedures on living animals. Adequate arrangements shall be made for their in-service training, including the proper and humane care and use of laboratory animals.
- Where exceptions are required in relation to the provisions of these Principles, the decisions should not rest with the investigators directly concerned but should be made, with due regard to Principle II, by an appropriate review group such as an institutional animal care and use committee. Such exceptions should not be made solely for the purposes of teaching or demonstration.
*For guidance throughout these Principles, the reader is referred to the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals prepared by the Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources, National Academy of Sciences.
American Veterinary Medical Association has published guidelines for euthanasia, which are endorsed and accepted by AAALAC and other accreting agencies. Individual animal care and use committees decide whether or not to use these guidelines.