Animal wastes contaminated with radioactive materials, recombinant organisms, infectious agents or other hazardous chemical agents must be carefully managed to avoid human exposure or damage to the environment. Special efforts should be made in experimental design to minimize the generation of wastes containing hazardous chemicals. Those containing radioactivity in addition to hazardous chemicals are particularly difficult to deal with. Wastes containing infectious agents should be decontaminated, preferably in a steam autoclave, before disposal. Incineration is the recommended treatment for contaminated feed and bedding. The professional health and safety staff, who have responsibility for hazardous waste management at the institution, should review institutional policies when animal care proposals involving hazardous materials are received.
Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories, 4th Edition, May 1999. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Publication (CDC) 93-8395.
NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules. NIH Office of Biotechnology Activities.
Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories. January 31, 1990. Federal Register, Vol. 55:3327-3335 29CFR1910.1450.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Regulatory Guide. 1996. Regulatory Guide 8.29, Instruction concerning risks from occupational radiation exposure.
Occupational Health and Safety in the Care and Use of Animals. 1997. National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
C.3.f. Instructional Use of Animals Any instructional use of live, vertebrate animals that is supported by the PHS is governed by the PHSPolicy. The applicability of the AWRs de-pends upon the species used. Most institutions have chosen to require that all instructional use of animals, regardless of funding source or species, be reviewed by the IACUC.
It may be appropriate for students, at both undergraduate and graduate levels, to participate in the conduct of experiments involving laboratory animals for the purpose of education. All instructional proposals should clearly identify the learning objectives and justify the particular value of animal use as part of the course, whether it is demonstration of a known phenomenon, acquisition of practical skills, or exposure to research. In all cases, consideration must be given to alternative approaches to attaining the desired educational objectives, in accordance with the U.S. Government Principles.
Adequate supervision and training are especially important as the tech-niques learned by students may be carried into subsequent research careers. It is recommended that students receive instruction in the ethics of animal research and applicable rules and regulations, prior to undertaking any experimentation. When students work in an investigator’s laboratory, the IACUC must ensure that the students receive appropriate supervision and training in animal care and use. The PHSPolicy and AWRs have specific training requirements that apply to all animal users, including students. Student projects involving protocols different from those approved for the instructor’s laboratory must be reviewed and approved on their own merits by the IACUC.
Experiments sometimes entail behavioral observation with no intervention, or minor painless interventions, such as choices of food or living accommodations. Such projects teach the rigors of conducting a research project and the variability inherent to biological or biobehavioral systems. These exercises generally involve little or no distress to the animals, but still require IACUC approval.
Some procedures present additional concerns. Selected examples are listed below:
Behavioral studies that involve conditioning procedures in which animals are trained to perform tasks using mildly aversive stimuli, such as the noise of a buzzer, may be potentially stressful to the
animals. For other behavioral studies using non-aversive stimuli, such as running mazes, it may be necessary to maintain animals at a reduced body weight to enable food treats to be used as an effective reward. Experiments involving food and water restriction for teaching purposes must be rigorously justified and carefully monitored.
Some behavioral studies produce potentially high levels of distress, including those using aversive stimuli, such as unavoidable noxious electric shock and surgical ablations or drug-induced lesions designed to affect the animal’s behavior or performance. The educational benefits of such procedures should be carefully reviewed and clearly justified, bearing in mind that studies involving unrelieved pain or distress are generally inappropriate when employed solely for instructional purposes (U.S. Government Principle IX).
Laboratory studies in physiology, neurophysiology, biology and pharmacology often involve observations and experiments using ani-mals. For all procedures, including those in which animals are euthanized to obtain tissues (e.g., in the teaching of anatomy or tissue harvest for in vitro procedures), the procedures and method of eutha-nasia, if any, must be reviewed by the IACUC. The number of animals used should always be the minimum necessary to accomplish the objectives of the proposed educational activity.
Animal Use in Veterinary Teaching
Many North American veterinary schools use live animals to teach anes-thesia, animal handling, surgical procedures, recovery from anesthesia, post-operative management and postmortem examinations following terminal procedures. Animals designated for teaching may be kept long term and participate in many classes over the course of a year or more.
All instructional use of animals in non-survival as well as survival instruc-tional procedures should be reviewed by the IACUC. Repeated procedures on designated teaching animals should be limited and reviewed by the IACUC. Federal limitations against multiple survival surgeries must be observed. Cost savings alone is not an adequate reason for performing multiple survival surgical procedures.
Some schools now make alternatives available for those students who do not wish to participate in animal laboratories. Alternatives to the use of animals acquired specifically for instruction include the use of client-owned animals, or dogs and cats from animal control facilities that are made
available for surgical neutering. Plastic models and other model systems are increasingly being used to teach manual skills.
Animals that develop unique and/or terminal conditions may be donated to a veterinary school for research and/or teaching purposes. The use of these animals needs full IACUC review.