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Code of Ethics for the Care and Use of Animals

Purpose

In order to comply with government regulations (PHS and USDA) and the American Association for the Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) the UConn Health’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) has implemented a policy regarding a code of ethics for the care and use of animals.

Action

1. It is recognized that in many research protocols there is simply no alternative to the use of live animals. Despite this social imperative for animal experimentation, all investigators have an ethical obligation to explore ways in which animals can be partially or totally replaced by other biological or mathematical/computer systems. When a research question can be pursued using reasonably available non-animal or in vitro models and still result in sound scientific conclusions, the investigator should choose these alternatives.

2. When live animals are used in research or biological testing, there must be a reasonable expectation that such utilization will contribute to the enhancement of human or animal health, the advancement of knowledge, and/or the good of society. The relative value of the study is a particularly important consideration in potentially painful experiments where there is an ethical imperative that the benefits of the research clearly outweigh any pain, discomfort, and distress experienced by the animals.

3. Selection of an appropriate animal model is an important consideration, particularly at a time when alternative models for animal research are being emphasized. It is the investigator’s responsibility to select the optimal species for a particular project. In addition, the number of animals utilized in a protocol should be minimized consistent with sound scientific and statistical standards. It is also the investigator’s responsibility to consider the source of the animal and ensure that all animals used for experimental research are lawfully acquired.

4. When animals are used in a research project, the investigator has an ethical obligation to seek the least painful techniques feasible that will allow the protocol objective(s) to be pursued adequately. If a procedure has associated pain, discomfort, or distress, it is imperative that the investigator estimate the probably occurrence, magnitude, and duration of the pain, discomfort, or distress in order to adequately plan for the treatment of pain.

5. In potentially painful procedures, the investigator must take all necessary steps to assess and monitor pain as well as discomfort and distress. In assessing pain, the investigator should use behavioral signs based on the normal behavior pattern of the species under study.

6. If a procedure will cause more than momentary slight pain or distress to the animal, the pain must be minimized both in intensity and duration through the administration of appropriate anesthetics, analgesics, and tranquilizers consistent with acceptable standards of veterinary medicine. It should be emphasized that the requirement for the alleviation/reduction of pain applies not only at the time the procedure is being conducted, but also following the procedure until such time when the pain is either alleviated or reduced to an acceptable tolerance level.

7. Potentially painful experiments should not be conducted on an awake animal under the influence of a paralytic or curarizing drug without the concomitant use of an appropriate anesthetic.

8. Research in which painful stimuli are used should be so designed as to provide a means of escape from that pain by the animals.

9. It is recognized that in certain research protocols, the administration of appropriate anesthetics and/or analgesics will compromise the scientific validity of the experiment. Such experiments must be justifiable in terms of scientific design and value, and the deletion of these drugs should be based on referenceable scientific fact or experimental data and not intuition. In addition, pain, discomfort, and distress levels should be carefully monitored. There is a limitation on the pain to which an experimental animal may be exposed. Investigators should choose the earliest possible end-point in order to minimize pain and discomfort. An animal that is observed to be in a state of severe pain that cannot be alleviated or reduced to an acceptable tolerance level should be immediately euthanized.

10. No animal should be subjected to multiple survival surgeries, except where they are inter-related and essential to the primary research objective.

11. Physical restraint procedures should be used on an awake animal only after alternative procedures have been considered and found to be inadequate. If a restraint will be utilized, the animal should be trained or conditioned to the restraining device, using positive reinforcement, prior to the beginning of the experiment. The restraining device should provide the minimum restraint consistent with the maximum security and comfort of the animal. In addition, the restraining device should provide the animal with the greatest possible opportunity to assume its normal postural adjustments. Awake animals should not be subjected to prolonged physical restraint.

12. It is the responsibility of the investigator to ensure that adequate post-surgical/procedural care is provided to all animals. This care must meet acceptable standards of veterinary medicine and be provided as long as necessary, including during non-duty hours.

13. Euthanasia is the act of inducing painless death. The proposed method of euthanasia must be consistent with the recommendations of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Panel on Euthanasia (2013).  If an animal will not be subjected to euthanasia at the completion of a research protocol, it is the responsibility of the investigator to ensure that the final disposition of the animal is both humane and acceptable.

14. Procedures involving the use of animals should be performed by or under the immediate supervision of an individual with the appropriate training and experience relative to the procedures to be carried out on live animals.

Effective Dates:   June 20, 2019 thru June 30, 2022