Animal Subjects

Why aren't alternatives, like cell culture or computer models, used instead of animals?

Alternatives to the use of whole living animals are being developed constantly, and significant progress has been made in this area over the past 20 years. Animal cell culture lines and computer programs have been substituted in some areas of research and their use has contributed to the decrease in the use of live animals.

However, whole animals continue to be required in many areas of research where the complicated, multiple- system interactions and effects mentioned above must be assessed.

Who is responsible for the care of animals? What if I have questions about animal use in research and teaching on campus?

The Director of Animal Care and Campus Veterinarian have primary responsibility for the care of UMass animals, and the members of the federally mandated Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee also contribute substantially to the oversight of the care and use of the laboratory animals. Those with questions about laboratory animals at UMass Amherst can contact the Animal Care Services at (413) 545-0668 or the Director for Animal Care (same number) for questions concerning animal use in research and teaching.

Where do the laboratory animals live on the campus?

The laboratory animals live in quarters approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, and the facilities are checked regularly for compliance with federal animal welfare laws.

There are facilities at six sites. Facilities are located close to the classrooms and laboratories where the animals are used to minimize transportation stress. The heating, ventilation, air conditioning, humidity, lighting and access by unauthorized personnel are carefully controlled to maintain the health of the colonies.

What are the members of the IACUC and how are they appointed?

The University's IACUC membership includes three veterinarians (a local practitioner with research and laboratory animal care experience, a large animal veterinarian and the Campus Attending Veterinarian), one non-affiliated member from the local community, non-scientists, the Director of Animal Care, the Director of Laboratory Safety in Environmental Health and Safety, the Research Compliance Coordinator and scientists/faculty members who conduct research and teach.

What are the laws that regulate the care and use of laboratory animals?

The use of laboratory animals is one of the most regulated uses of animals in the United States, and other countries as well. In the U.S., the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy) regulate the use of laboratory animals. Some states and U.S. cities also have animal welfare laws that govern the use of laboratory animals.

How often does the IACUC meet?

The committee meets every month to review animal use protocols and to discuss other aspects of the animal care and use program at the University. The committee may schedule additional meetings as needed. Sub-committees if the IACUC meet every six months to conduct semi-annual inspections of the animal facilities and animal use areas, and review the animal care and use program.

How often are the animals checked in their cages, watered and fed, and cleaned?

The animals are checked for health and well-being and fed and watered every day by Animal Care staff throughout the year, including weekends and holidays. The director observes all the animals at least once per week. Cleaning is performed on a schedule to provide the animals with the best possible environment and to comply with species-specific requirements of the federal animal welfare laws.

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