Notice of Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare Policy on Shared Animal Welfare Concerns

Notice Number:


Key Dates

Release Date: December 01, 2014

Related Announcements


Issued by

National Institutes of Health (NIH)


This Notice is to inform awardee institutions of the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) policy regarding animal welfare concerns shared by OLAW and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Animal Care (AC).

The Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory animals (Policy, IV.F.3.) requires Assured institutions to self-report any serious or continuing noncompliance to OLAW. Institutions may also choose to share self-reports of noncompliance with AC as a demonstration of their commitment to continual animal welfare improvement, timely correction of noncompliance, and prevention of reoccurrence.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding, OLAW frequently shares self-reports of serious animal welfare concerns involving USDA regulated species with AC Animal Welfare Operations (formerly called AC Regional Offices). Serious animal welfare concerns may include unanticipated death of animal(s), and unexpected and unrelieved pain or distress to animal(s). OLAW will contact AC to share serious animal welfare concerns and issues of interest to both agencies. Institutional self-reports are shared with AC after OLAW’s investigation is completed.

AC will not cite an institution for past self-reports to OLAW if the incident:

  • did not cause serious adverse effects;
  • had no history of repeat noncompliance;
  • was corrected in a timely manner; and
  • led to effective preventative measures.

AC will cite the institution if any of the above criteria are not met.

Complaints from third parties involving previously reviewed noncompliance or any events over 3 years old will not be reexamined by AC or OLAW. This policy is in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding that was designed to foster continual improvements in animal welfare, reduce redundancy in oversight, and reduce regulatory burden.

USDA AC has reviewed and concurs with this policy and has published consistent guidance in the November 2014 Tech Note.


For questions or further information, contact:

Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW)
Office of Extramural Research
National Institutes of Health
Telephone: 301-496-7163