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Humane Care and Use of Animals

The American College of Veterinary Surgeons, recognizing its responsibility, promotes high quality and humane care of animals whether for companionship, agricultural use, sporting events, teaching, or research. The use of animals in teaching and research is viewed as a unique privilege with inherent responsibilities and not as an absolute right. Advances in surgical and medical care of animals and people require research which must at times involve the use of animals, as does the training of veterinary students, interns, residents, and graduate veterinarians. Laboratory animals serve an important role in these essential teaching and research efforts but their use must be justified and their humane care insured by teachers, scientists, and local peer review committees. Alternatives to the use of live animals should always be considered and animal use reserved for those times when acceptable alternatives are not available. The use of animals, whether for teaching, basic research, or clinical trials, must be carefully scrutinized to insure that meaningful results are obtained for the benefit of animal or human health. Survival after surgery is important for many research and teaching projects but must be justified and the animals cared for in a humane and conscientious manner; humane care and high quality of life must be a priority.

The American College of Veterinary Surgeons promotes and encourages treatment of animals with high-quality professional care and humane concern. To help achieve these goals, the following guidelines are established:

A. Care of Individual Animals

  1. The ACVS endorses guidelines set forth by the National Institutes of Health in the current "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals" and "The Animal Welfare Act of 1966."
  2. Techniques for euthanasia should follow guidelines established by the American Veterinary Medical Association Panel on Euthanasia (AVMA 2000).

B. Diplomate's Responsibility

  1. Diplomates should follow the guidelines set forth in the National Institutes of Health in the current "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals" and the "Animal Welfare Act of 1966."
  2. Diplomates at educational and research institutions should encourage and assist their institutions in becoming accredited by the American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC).
  3. Diplomates at educational and research institutions should assist in the development of an "Animal Care and Use Committee." Diplomates should take a leadership role in establishing and reviewing protocols for animal use.
  4. Diplomates should always consider alternative methods of teaching and research which do not require the use of living animals. For example:
    1. Basic surgical techniques, such as aseptic preparation, instrument handling, knot tying and suturing, should be taught using artificial materials, audiovisual instruction or cadavers before students engage in exercises using living animals.
    2. Wherever possible, simulated models should be instituted to teach fundamental techniques of surgery.
    3. The number of teaching laboratories using living animals should be kept to a minimum and the exercises selected to maximize the principles of surgery rather than specific techniques.
  5. Diplomates should promote a sensitivity and concern among students, interns, and residents of the need for humane care and treatment of animals.
  6. Non-survival teaching laboratories, in which the animal is anesthetized, does not regain consciousness, and is humanely killed at the conclusion of the laboratory, are recommended. Survival teaching procedures are discouraged and should be justified only if the learning experience of the student is materially enhanced and the knowledge gained cannot reasonably be obtained in another way.

C. College's Responsibility

  1. The ACVS accepts the obligation to remain current on all issues concerning ethical and moral issues of animal usage and to keep the members apprised of alternatives to animal use and of the laws pertaining to animal use.
  2. The ACVS, through its Continuing Education Committee, shall carefully scrutinize all submitted abstracts for appropriate and humane care of animals and shall only accept those that follow NIH guidelines and the Animal Welfare Act.
  3. The ACVS, through its publication, Veterinary Surgery, shall not publish any manuscript in which the materials and methods are not consistent with NIH guidelines and the Animal Welfare Act.
  4. The ACVS, through its research committee, shall fund research only at institutions which have AALAC accreditation or which follow NIH guidelines. Each proposal submitted for consideration must contain a statement, signed by the diplomate investigator (or co-investigator), that this requirement has been met.

While the College supports and encourages the implementation of the NIH guidelines for the care and use of laboratory animals, it is not responsible for the actions of individual members.