Notice Regarding NIH Plan to Transition from Use of USDA Class B Dogs to Other Legal Sources

Notice Number: NOT-OD-14-034

Key Dates
Release Date: December 17, 2013

Related Announcements
NOT-OD-11-055
NOT-OD-12-049

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Purpose

The National Institutes of Health is fully implementing a plan to prohibit the expenditure of funds for the acquisition of dogs for NIH-supported research from USDA Class B vendors1.  This action is in accordance with the recommendations of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR) report Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random Source Dogs and Cats in Research (2009) http://dels.nas.edu/Report/Scientific-Humane-Issues/12641

Background

Many medical advances that enhance the lives of both humans and animals originate from animal studies. The types of animals used in research are chosen for their biological similarity to humans in areas such as anatomy, physiology, and genetics. This research can lead to insights into how to prevent, treat, and cure human diseases. Often the treatments developed for humans can also be used to improve the health of animals.

The majority of dogs used in biomedical research are either “purpose-bred” for research by USDA Class A vendors, or bred and raised in privately owned research colonies. Some research dogs, however, commonly referred to as “random source” dogs, are procured from USDA licensed Class B dealers.  These dealers acquire dogs from random sources such as individual owners, small hobby breeders, dog pounds and animal shelters.

The public and Congress have expressed concern about the humane treatment of animals acquired for use in biomedical research, particularly that of “random source” dogs.  In FY2008, the NIH Appropriations language asked the NIH to “seek an independent review by a nationally recognized panel of experts of the use of Class B dogs and cats in federally supported research to determine how frequently such animals are used in NIH research and to propose recommendations outlining the parameters of such use, if determined to be necessary.”  (Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill, 2008 (S. 1710) Referenced in the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2008, P.L. 110-61 signed 12/26/2007.)

NIH commissioned the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to conduct a study on the use of Class B dogs and cats in NIH supported research. In May 2009 representatives from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) met with NIH staff and delivered the study report Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random Source Dogs and Cats in Research.  The report made a number of recommendations and concluded that continued access to animals can be accomplished with existing alternative mechanisms other than Class B dealers and can be assured with additional effort.

NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-11-055  Guidance on the NIH Plan to Transition from the use of USDA Class B Dogs to Other Legal Sources provided background and a description of the transition regarding the implementation of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research report Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random Source Dogs and Cats in Research (2009) recommendations with regard to Class B dogs.  To facilitate the transition from Class B to other legal sources of dogs, NIH implemented an aggressive acquisition plan for a limited pilot project to develop a USDA licensed commercial Class A vendor to breed dogs possessing the same characteristics deemed necessary for the questions being pursued by NIH researchers as those previously acquired from Class B dealers, namely mature, large, socialized, out-bred hounds or mongrels. Under this pilot project, a limited number of dogs with these characteristics were acquired and made available at no charge to NIH supported investigators with a demonstrated scientific need.  A limited number of animals were available in Fiscal Year 2011 to the present, as part of the pilot project.  The pilot demonstrated that Class A vendors can provide large, mature, socialized, out-bred hounds or mongrels.

Implementation

NIH will fully implement a new policy prohibiting the procurement of dogs from Class B dealers using NIH grant funds beginning in FY 2015.  All ongoing NIH-supported research in FY2014 involving dogs from any legal source may continue. FY 2015 noncompeting and competing awards issued on or after October 1, 2014 are prohibited from using NIH funds to procure or support the use of dogs from Class B dealers.  Dogs used in NIH-supported research may only be from USDA Class A dealers or other approved legal sources.  Any costs incurred in violation of this policy are unallowable and will be subject to a cost disallowance.

This is consistent with similar policy regarding the procurement of cats implemented in FY13 (NOT-OD-12-049), and constitutes full NIH implementation of the recommendation of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research report Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random Source Dogs and Cats in Research (2009) that states:

“Although random source dogs and cats represent a very small percentage of animals used in biomedical research, this small number is not commensurate with their potential value, and it is desirable to assure continued access to animals with random source qualities. This access can be accomplished with existing alternative mechanisms other than Class B dealers and can be assured with additional effort.”

1. Other legal sources include Class A vendors, privately owned colonies (e.g. NCI-supported intra-institutional existing colonies, or colonies established by donations from breeders or owners because of genetic defects such as bleeding disorders) or client owned animals (e.g. animals participating in veterinary clinical trials.)

Inquiries

Please direct all inquiries to:

Margaret Snyder, Ph.D. 
Office of the Director
Telephone: 301-402-1058
Email: snyderm@mail.nih.gov

 


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