The IACUC should provide oversight of the behavioral management pro-gram in a manner similar to its oversight of other husbandry components of the animal care and use program, and evaluate program outcomes during semiannual reviews.
To adequately discharge this responsibility, the IACUC should have access to training or other orientation materials that will assist the IACUC members in evaluating the adequacy of the program (Bayne 2000). Formal, written plans for nonhuman primate environmental enrichment and canine exercise, established to provide a framework to the behavioral management program, should be approved by the IACUC and reviewed periodically. The com-mittee should identify who is responsible for keeping the plan current and implementing the plan (e.g., an enrichment committee, the AV, etc.). The NRC publication, The Psychological Well-Being of Nonhuman Primates (1998), adopted by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International as a Reference Resource for accredi-ted institutions, advises a team approach to development and oversight of the behavioral management program to include investigators, veterinarians and the IACUC.
References NRC. 1998. The Psychological Well-Being of Nonhuman Primates. National Academy Press, Washington, DC.
Bayne, K. 2000. Laboratory animal enrichment. In: The IACUC Handbook (J. Silverman, M.A. Suckow and S. Murthy, eds.). CRC Press. New York.
Adequate veterinary medical care is an essential component of an animal care and use program and is required by the PHSPolicy and Animal Wel-fare Regulations (AWRs). Institutions with smaller programs may opt for a part-time consulting veterinarian; the veterinarian’s overall responsibilities remain the same in all cases.
It is the institution’s responsibility to support ongoing improvements in the animal care and use program through the development and implementa-tion of procedures and policies (e.g., IACUC guidelines) that enhance the health of the animals (ACLAM 1996). Clear provisions should be made to give the veterinarian appropriate authority to execute a program of ade-quate veterinary care, including access to all animals.
Qualifications The veterinarian participating in a laboratory animal care and use program must have training or experience in laboratory animal science and medi-cine, or in care of the species of animals maintained by the institution. Veterinarians can demonstrate the breadth and relevance of their exper-tise by achieving certification as a Diplomate of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) or through other work experience and career accomplishments. Specialty training programs are available at a number of government, academic and commercial institutions to prepare graduate veterinarians to pursue ACLAM certification. Alternatively, veteri-narians may qualify for ACLAM certification by working in a laboratory animal resource program and meeting other specified criteria.
The veterinarian providing support to a laboratory animal care and use program must meet applicable state veterinary practice acts, inclusive of licensure requirements, particularly in the discharging of certain official duties, such as signing interstate health certificates or verifying rabies vaccination or tuberculosis status of animals.
Responsibilities The chief responsibility of the veterinarian is to provide for the health and welfare of animals. The Report of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine on Adequate Veterinary Care in Research, Testing and Teaching provides a detailed description of adequate veterinary care. The details of a veterinary care program will depend on the species of animals employed and the particulars of the laboratory animal use, but in all cases the program and care provided must comply with standard veterinary practice.
The introduction of new animals is an important aspect of the veterinary care program with such considerations as stabilization periods, isolation and quarantine. Animals should be obtained only from licensed dealers or other legitimate sources. One of the prime mechanisms for ensuring high quality laboratory animals is to purchase them from commercial vendors who produce specific pathogen-free stock and maintain rigorous animal health monitoring programs to ensure quality. Generally, most animals are purpose-bred for laboratory use. Certain states have passed legislation requiring that cats and dogs used in research be bred specifically for that purpose.
Random source or wild caught animals are not bred by the supplier (known as Class B dealers), but are obtained from a variety of sources including pounds, shelters or farms that may not conform to the same standards of animal husbandry and health as the research facility. Before their use, clinical evaluation and conditioning of these animals are required to ensure that they are not carrying diseases that can be transmitted to other animals, including humans, or do not introduce uncontrolled variables into research. Research facilities that obtain dogs and cats from sources other than dealers, exhibitors, and exempt persons must hold the animals for five full days, not including the day of acquisition, after acquiring the animal, excluding time in transit, before they may be used by the facility (9 CFR §2.38(j)). Research facilities must comply with the identification of animals requirements set forth in §2.38(g) during this period.
Although selection of high-quality laboratory animals has reduced the prev-alence of infectious diseases in research animal colonies, preventive medicine programs, conducted under the guidance of the veterinarian, con-tinue to be important for maintenance of healthy animals.
These programs include:
separate housing of animals according to species, source or different background microbial floras.
While preventive medicine programs are successful in reducing the inci-dence of disease, illness and injury may still occur in laboratory animal colonies. The veterinarian is responsible for monitoring animal health, providing adequate diagnostic support through clinical assessments, labor-atory diagnosis and necropsy when required, and treating animals when illness or injury necessitates veterinary medical care. Using a documented process, the veterinarian may delegate responsibility for care to trained technical staff but must always be available to provide rapid diagnosis and treatment.
The AWRs stipulate that the veterinarian attend to not only the physical health of animals, but also the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates, and exercise for dogs. The plan for canine exercise must be approved by the Attending Veterinarian (AV) before it can be implemented. Additionally, animals that are exempted from either the canine exercise plan or the nonhuman primate psychological well-being enhancement plan for health, condition or behavioral reasons must be documented by the AV and, unless a permanent condition exists, reviewed by the AV every 30 days.
Specific areas requiring the veterinarian’s attention and guidance are:
the selection and utilization of suitable anesthetic and analgesic agents and methods of euthanasia;
appropriate selection of species for research projects; and
proper performance of surgical procedures and adequate pre-operative, surgical, and postoperative care.
The veterinarian should discuss with investigators the design and imple-mentation of study proposals and may provide written guidelines dealing with these and other issues. Collegial exchanges between the investigator and the veterinarian before the submission of a proposal to the IACUC may address many of the Committee’s concerns and expedite the review process.
At some institutions, the veterinarian or his/her staff may participate directly as a co-investigator in activities involving animals by providing clinical, surgical or other scientific or technical expertise to the study. Veterinarians sometimes also serve as principal investigators with responsibility for their own research and training programs. In such situations, the IACUC has the same obligation to review and approve the proposed activities as it would for any other investigator. When the veterinarian is personally involved in a research project, he/she must excuse himself/herself from the IACUC review and vote on the project. IACUCs may consider utilizing a consulting veterinarian to assist in review of such projects.
The AWRs require institutions utilizing animals in research and teaching to provide training and instruction to personnel on humane methods of animal maintenance and experimentation. The veterinarian and the animal resource program staff, in conjunction with the IACUC, are usually responsible for providing such training.
The PHSPolicy requires institutional occupational health and safety pro-grams to ensure that personnel who have laboratory animal contact are included in a risk assessment process and action plan that addresses workplace safety through appropriate educational, industrial hygiene and medical interventions. The veterinarian, in cooperation with appropriate health and safety officials at the institution, is often responsible for the implementation and execution of aspects of the program concerned with animal health and safety issues.