Reporting Animal Welfare Concerns

Purpose

UConn Health’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is committed to the humane care and use of laboratory animals. To ensure that laboratory animals receive humane care and use or treatment in accordance with the highest ethical standards, laws, regulations, and policies governing animal research, the IACUC must review and, if warranted, address any animal-related concerns by the public or UConn Health employees. The following will outline the established procedure to ensure that concerns are communicated to the IACUC. The IACUC must review each concern in a timely and systematic manner and, when necessary, take prompt and appropriate corrective action.

Reports of animal welfare concerns may be made anonymously, if desired. However, if the complainant would like to know the resolution of the investigation, he must provide a name. All reports will be handled confidentially, although anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

This policy is subject to the UConn Health Center Whistle Blower’s Protection Policy.

Action

1. Letter-sized posters outlining how to report animal care and use concerns are available and posted throughout the health center: in the main department offices, and on each floor where animal rooms are located. Concerns may be sent to the following:

  • Non-compliance Report Line, UCHC Service, 888-685-2637
  • Office of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, 860-679-4129
  • Center for Comparative Medicine, 860-679-2731
  • IACUC chair, 860-679-8199

2. When alleged incidences of non-compliance are reported to the IACUC, these incidences will be investigated with the utmost concern for confidentiality and due process, without compromising the welfare of the animals.

3. If the incidence directly involves animal health and safety, a Center for Comparative Medicine (CCM) veterinarian will assess the health and well-being of the animal(s) and will verify the concern. If there is animal suffering, the veterinarian will take immediate action, including supportive care or euthanasia. While a good faith effort will be made to contact the principal investigator (PI), the immediate animal welfare situation may necessitate that immediate action be taken without the PI’s knowledge.

4. Once the animal(s)’s welfare is assessed and addressed (or in those situations where animals are not directly involved), the alleged concern or issue will be evaluated by the IACUC Chair, the Attending Veterinarian, the IACUC Administrator, and/or the Institutional Official (IO) generally within 5 working days of receiving a report of an animal welfare concern.

  • If they determine a complaint does not warrant further investigation, the IACUC Chair will inform the IACUC of the incident and its resolution at the next convened meeting.
  • If they determine a complaint warrants investigation, the IACUC Chair will inform the Principle Investigator and appoint a subcommittee of IACUC members to lead a formal investigation of the complaint.  Once the investigation is complete, a report will be generated for the full IACUC to evaluate.
  • The IO will then, if a reportable non-compliance has occurred, inform the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) to comply with the OLAW requirement for prompt reporting (NOT-OD-05-034).  The IO will inform the affected PI(s) of this notification.

5. It is the responsibility of the IACUC subcommittee to review the concern and determine the appropriate requirements for the investigation in a timely manner (generally within 5 working days of the formation of the subcommittee) and communicate with the PI involved in the complaint.

6. Once the subcommittee informs the IACUC of the results of the investigation, and it is reviewed and agreed by the full IACUC, then the IACUC will inform the PI and the IO of the results of the investigation.

7.  A final report of reportable non-compliance will be sent to OLAW by the IO.  If the non-compliance activity requires reporting to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, this will also be done at this time.  Concurrent with notification to federal agencies, AAALAC will also be informed of the non-compliant event.

8.  If the complainant disclosed his name, he will then be contacted by the IACUC Administrator with the results of the investigation.

9.  If allegations of misuse of laboratory animals or non-compliance with federal, state, or institutional policies or regulations have been established by the investigation, the potential consequences to the involved individual(s) may include:  mandatory retraining, suspension of animal protocol(s), termination of animal protocol(s), or permanent withdrawal of IACUC approval to use laboratory animals.

Effective Dates:   December 6, 2018 thru December 31, 2021