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A program of animal care and use includes multiple components that work synergistically to support activities involving laboratory animals. This section includes descriptions of each of 7 different components that collectively constitute a program of animal care and use.
The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, or IACUC, is a committee appointed by the Chief Executive Officer of the institution. The IACUC has certain federally mandated responsibilities, such as review of protocols and periodic evaluations of the program of animal care and use, including inspections of facilities. The ARENA/OLAW IACUC Guidebook (PDF) is a recommended manual for IACUCs.
The membership and functions of the IACUC are described in detail in the next section - The IACUC.
An important component of a program is the IACUC's use of standardized procedures, sometimes referred to as SOPs or standard operating procedures. Typically, each institution will develop its own procedures, following Federal guidelines, to address:
" Veterinary care is an essential part of an animal care and use Program" (Guide, p. 105)
Arrangements for veterinary care will depend on the institution and the size of the animal program. Consultant or part-time veterinary services may be appropriate for small programs with limited numbers of animals. Under all circumstances, there must be a direct channel of open communication between the Institutional Official and the veterinarian.
The veterinary care program should contain the following components:
The attending veterinarian must have the authority to implement the veterinary care program, and to oversee the adequacy of all other aspects of animal care and use, e.g, animal husbandry, nutrition, sanitation practices, zoonosis control, and hazard containment.The American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine's (ACLAM) Guidelines for Adequate Veterinary Care (PDF) is a recommended reference on the topic of veterinary care.
It is the responsibility of the institution to ensure that all personnel involved in animal care and use are appropriately qualified to perform their duties and conduct proposed activities. The PHS Policy explicitly requires that training includes research or testing methods that minimize the number of animals required to obtain valid results and minimize animal distress.
The development and implementation of a training program are usually performed by the IACUC, the veterinary staff, and investigators using animals. Program content is governed by legal requirements and by specific scientific activities conducted at the institution.
A number of self-instructive audiovisual materials and manuals are available. The American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) offers formal training and certification programs and there are commercially available training materials available for self-guided study. The USDA Animal Welfare Information Center (AWIC) has information on many materials and programs, and a loan program for items in its library. Training and Adult Learning Strategies for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, a 2007 issue of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR) Journal that provides an update to Education and Training in the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals: A Guide for Developing Institutional Programs, developed by the ILAR Committee on Educational Programs in Laboratory Animal Science, is a comprehensive reference on this subject.
"Each institution must establish and maintain an occupational health and safety program (OHSP) as an essential part of the overall Program of animal care and use." (Guide, p. 17)
An effective occupational health and safety program must encompass all personnel that have contact with animals. Depending on the facility, research activities, hazards, and animal species involved, the program may not affect all personnel equally. Minimally, the program should include:
"The design of animal facilities combined with appropriate animal housing and management are essential contributors to animal well-being, the quality of animal research and production, teaching or testing programs involving animals, and the health and safety of personnel." (Guide, p. 41)
A program of animal care and use will include attention to:
Facilities must have a disaster plan to prepare for unexpected conditions that could jeopardize the health and wellbeing of personnel and animals. The requirement for institutional disaster planning is found in the Guide (p. 35). The plan should:
Go to Next Section: The IACUC