The National Research Council last week released an updated edition of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, which recommends standards and practices to research scientists and their institutions for the humane care and treatment of animals in research, testing, or teaching. Last published in 1996, the guide’s latest edition contains expanded chapters and sections on ethical principles for working with laboratory animals; guidelines for institutions to establish and maintain an Animal Care and Use Program; housing and environment standards for land and aquatic animals; standards for a veterinary and clinical care program and responsibilities of the attending veterinarian; and requirements for an institution’s overall physical facility design.
Updates to the guide include:
- an endorsement of “the three Rs” — replacement, refinement, and reduction — as principles to employ when using animals in research and designing humane animal research studies
- a holistic approach to institutional Animal Care and Use Programs, defining them as the sum of the activities that directly impact the well-being of laboratory animals
- a new section on care and use of aquatic species
- a new section on creating a disaster and emergency plan that identifies necessary steps for use in catastrophic events
- expanded sections on how to properly transport animals
- a definition of animal biosecurity — measures taken to prevent and control unwanted diseases — and proper practices
- new material on veterinary clinical care and management
- new and updated information on physical plant-related topics, such as special design facilities and hazardous agent containment
- In addition, the guide emphasizes the need to house all social animals, particularly monkeys, in compatible pairs or larger groups of compatible animals. The committee, which minimally changed space recommendations, noted that further study of space and housing needs — as well as the best methods for providing enrichment, exercise, and human contact for laboratory animals — is required.