Animal Care Program
Veterinarian's primary responsibilities (based on ACLAM):
a. Disease Detection and Surveillance, Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment and Resolution
1. The isolation, quarantine and stabilization programs for newly arrived animals are necessary to provide time to assess their health status, allow them to recover from the stress of shipment and an opportunity to adapt to their new environment. The extent of these programs depends on several factors, including species and source of the animals as well as their intended use. For some animals, such as rodents obtained from reliable sources for which health status is known, visual inspection on arrival may suffice. For species such as nonhuman primates, farm animals, wild animals, random source dogs and cats, and non-specific pathogen free rabbits and rodents, appropriate quarantine and isolation procedures must be employed.
2. Preventive medicine programs such as vaccinations, ecto- and endoparasite treatments and other disease control measures will be initiated according to currently acceptable veterinary medical practices appropriate to the particular species and source. Only animals of defined health status should be used in research and testing unless a specific, naturally occurring or induced disease state is being studied. Systems should be established to protect animals within the institution from exposure to diseases. Transgenic and mutant animals may be particularly susceptible to diseases and may require special protection to ensure their health. Systems to prevent spread of disease may include facility design features, containment/isolation equipment, and use of standard operating procedures. Training of animal care and research staff is essential to prevent spread of animal diseases.
3. Daily observation of all animals by a person or persons qualified to verify their well-being is required. It is not necessary for a veterinarian to personally make this assessment each day. However, at a minimum, a trained paraprofessional or technician must observe each animal every day and there must be a timely and accurate method for conveying information regarding animal health, behavior and well-being to the veterinarian.
4. Disease surveillance is a major responsibility of the veterinarian and includes routine monitoring of colony animals for the presence of parasitic, bacterial and viral agents that may cause overt or inapparent disease. Additionally, cells, tissues, fluids, and transplantable tumors that are to be used in animals should be monitored for infectious or parasitic agents that may cause disease in animals. The type and intensity of monitoring necessary will depend upon professional veterinary judgment and the species, source, use and number of animals housed and used in the facility.
5. Diagnostic laboratory services are available and used as appropriate. Laboratory services include necropsy, histopathology, microbiology, clinical pathology, serology, and parasitology as well as other routine or specialized laboratory procedures, as needed. It is not necessary that all of these services be available within the animal facility if other laboratories with appropriate capabilities are available and used.
6. Animals with infectious disease must be isolated from others by placing them in isolation units or separate rooms appropriate for the containment of the agents of concern. In certain circumstances, when an entire group of animals is known or thought to be exposed or infected, it may be appropriate to keep the group intact during the time necessary for diagnosis and treatment, for taking other control measures, or for completion of a project.
7. The veterinarian has authority to use appropriate treatment or control measures, including euthanasia if indicated, following diagnosis of an animal disease or injury. If possible, the veterinarian will discuss the situation with the principal investigator to determine a course of action consistent with experimental goals. However, if the principal investigator is not available, or if agreement cannot be reached, the veterinarian has authority to act to protect the health and well-being of the institutional animal colony. The veterinarian's authority is exercised with the concurrence of the IACUC and the Institutional Official.
b. Handling and Restraint; Anesthetics, Analgesics and Tranquilizer Drugs; and Methods of Euthanasia
Veterinary care includes providing guidance to animal users and monitoring animal use to assure that appropriate methods of handling and restraint are being used and to ensure proper use of anesthetics, analgesics, tranquilizers, and methods of euthanasia.
The veterinarian has the responsibility and authority to assure that handling, restraint, anesthesia, analgesia and euthanasia are administered as required to relieve pain and such suffering in research animals, provided such intervention is not specifically precluded in protocols reviewed and approved by the IACUC. The veterinarian will exercise good professional judgment to select the most appropriate pharmacologic agent(s) and methods to relieve animal pain or distress in order to assure humane treatment of animals, while avoiding undue interference with goals of the experiment.
c. Surgical and Postsurgical Care
Veterinary care includes the review and approval of all preoperative, surgical and postoperative procedures. The institution bears responsibility and assures, through authority explicitly delegated to the veterinarian or to the IACUC, that only facilities with programs appropriate for the intended surgical procedures are utilized and that personnel are adequately trained and competent to perform the procedures. The veterinarian's inherent responsibility includes monitoring and providing recommendations concerning preoperative procedures, surgical techniques, the qualifications of institutional staff to perform surgery and the provision of postoperative care.
d. Animal Well-Being
Veterinary care includes responsibility for the promotion and monitoring of an animal's well-being before, during and after experimentation or testing. Animal well-being includes both physical and psychological aspects of an animal's condition evaluated in terms of environmental comfort, freedom from pain and distress and appropriate social interactions, both with conspecifics and with man. The veterinarian has the authority and responsibility for making determinations concerning animal well-being and assuring that animal well-being is adequately monitored and promoted. The veterinarian exercises this responsibility in review of animal care and use protocols, and has the authority to remove an animal from an experiment which is adversely affecting its well-being beyond a level reviewed and approved by the IACUC. The following examples represent how this responsibility can be met:
• Ensuring the adequacy of the physical plant, caging and ancillary equipment.
• Developing, implementing and monitoring sound animal care (husbandry) programs including such areas as sanitation, nutrition, genetics and breeding and vermin control.
• Establishing an acclimatization program to adapt animals to either short-term or long term restraint procedures.
• Improving and enriching an animal's environment to minimize the development of physical or behavioral abnormalities.
• Providing appropriate opportunities for human-animal socialization and acclimatization to the research environment or procedures.
• Performing periodic physical and clinical evaluations appropriate for the species and the experimental situation.
• Providing pre-procedural and post-procedural care in accordance with current established veterinary procedures.