Laws, Regulations, and Guidelines
The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was passed in 1966. This act licenses dealers, exhibitors and breeders of animals, regulates research facilities that use animals, sets standards for the humane care and treatment of animals and regulates the transportation of animals. The Act has been amended multiple times adding further protections for animals covered by the Act. The AWA specifically exempts birds, mice, rats, amphibians and reptiles used in research as well as agricultural animals that are used for agricultural production.The United States Department of Agriculture is the government agency that is responsible for the enforcement of this act. Facilities must submit an annual report to the USDA. The USDA conducts unannounced inspections of research facilities at least once a year. If violations of the Act are found, fines can be imposed or research activities can be stopped.
The Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on the Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals is based on the United States Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research and Training. This policy covers all vertebrate species of animals including birds, mice and rats and it covers all research that is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).Institutions covered by this policy must annually submit a written document called an Animal Welfare Assurance to NIH, which documents how the institution is complying with all the regulations covering animals used in research. The Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) at NIH is the agency that is responsible for enforcement of the PHS policy.
The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (“The Guide”) was first developed in 1963 as a manual for research facilities receiving public funding for research using animals. It sets specific standards for the care and use of laboratory animals. It addresses institutional responsibilities, husbandry and housing standards, veterinary care and physical plant specifications. It is written by experts in laboratory animal care and is published by the National Research Council. It is also available in several languages. The 1996 version of the Guide (online) is the version used by most people, but there is now a new 2011 version (pdf) that St. Olaf workers should download and start using.
AAALAC stands for the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care. This is an independent (non-government) and voluntary accreditation organization. AAALAC accredits laboratory animal facilities through a process of intensive inspections (every 3 years) and reports (yearly). AAALAC follows the high standards put forth in the Guide. Accreditation, while voluntary, represents commitment to excellence in animal care and is an important factor to many funding agencies.
Below are downloadable pdfs of the most widely used and accepted guidelines for the care and handling of wild vertebrates in research.
- Fishes (American Fisheries Society)
- Amphibians & Reptiles (American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists)
- Birds (The Ornithological Council)
- Mammals (American Society of Mammalogists)
The Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Agricultural Research and Teaching (pdf) is a text published by the Federation of Animal Sciences Societies. This Guide addresses standards for agricultural animal husbandry, housing and veterinary care. It does not apply to agricultural animals used for biomedical type research or teaching.The standards are slightly different than those listed in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. For example, cage space requirements may differ slightly between the two texts. Although this text is not regulatory, the College uses its provisions and principles as the basis for its care and use programs involving animals used for production or agricultural research.