Animal Subjects FAQ

No research on the campus involves the testing of cosmetics.

Dogs and cats are used at UMass Amherst and the UMass Mount Ida campus for instruction in the Veterinary Technology program. This Bachelor of Science degree program provides students with the opportunity to spend two years at the Amherst campus in laboratories and on the farm, followed by two years at the Mount Ida Campus. No cats and dogs are housed at UMass Amherst. Vet Tech lab courses at Amherst provide students with hands-on experience, using privately owned animals on a volunteer basis in a student clinic. More information about the regulations surrounding the use of dogs and cats and monitoring by the USDA is available on the USDA website.

Like at all research institutions that utilize animals, UMass Amherst faculty requesting use of live animals in studies and classes must demonstrate that the whole organism must be used in order to study the interaction of different physiological processes in living systems.

Fields of study in which use of live animals is crucial include conservation research in field settings, neuroscience, behavior, immunology, and nutrition, among others. In all cases, justification for the use of the animals must be provided in writing as part of an animal use protocol. Each protocol must be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) before the animal use begins.

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, which has contributed to the decrease in the use of live animals.

However, whole animals continue to be necessary in many areas of research where the complicated, multi-system interactions and effects must be assessed. No computer on earth can mimic an entire living system and all the diseases and conditions that can impact that system.

The UMass Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) reviews all classroom and research projects, whether sponsored or unsponsored, to ensure the humane care and use of animals. This includes classroom exercises and demonstrations as well as all research projects, including student projects.

The university’s IACUC membership includes veterinarians, a non-affiliated member, non-scientists, compliance staff, and scientists/faculty members from various departments who conduct research and teach. 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. Campus experts in environmental health and safety also participate in protocol reviews to ensure human health and safety.  More information on the IACUC can be found here.

The Attending Veterinarian/Director of Animal Care Services works with a team of professionals, including clinical veterinary staff, husbandry technicians, and compliance experts, to oversee animal care on campus. Together with the IACUC, these skilled employees ensure proper care, health, and welfare of all animals used in research and teaching on campus.

The university investigates, assesses, self-reports, and corrects any reported or identified incidents of non-compliance. Concerns about animal welfare can be reported to the Office of Research Compliance, 413-545-5204 or

Questions about animal care can be directed to the Director for Animal Care at (413) 545-5268.

The use of laboratory animals is one of the most regulated uses of animals in the United States, as well as other countries. 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. The PHS policy requires compliance with the guidelines and standards in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.  Massachusetts also has its own regulations on treatment of animals.

All institutions using AWA-covered animals must register with the USDA. The USDA inspects institutions’ animal facilities at least annually and may inspect at any time without prior notice. The results of these inspections are posted publicly on the USDA website. The university renewed its registration with the USDA in 2020 and renewed its NIH Animal Welfare Assurance in 2018. 

Both registrations include specifics about the housing, daily husbandry, veterinary care, emergency coverage, training of all personnel involved with the animals, and maintenance of physical facilities. Both require the active participation of the attending laboratory animal veterinarian and an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

Animal Use policy at UMass Amherst applies standards required by these federal regulations equally to all vertebrate animal used for research and teaching.

UMass complies with the Public Health Service (PHS) policy, including self-regulation and self-reporting. Issues of non-compliance may be found during the required semi-annual inspections, during routine post-approval monitoring, or through individual reporting of concerns. Examples of non-compliance may be found on the NIH website.

Self-reporting is done as soon as possible through verbal and/or written communication to the Office of Laboratory Welfare. More details on the process of reporting and timelines can be found here.

During their initial training, all new animal users are informed about how to report concerns, as well as the protections afforded by Massachusetts’ “Whistle Blower” statutes. Reporters may choose to remain anonymous. Concerns about animal welfare can be reported to the Office of Research Compliance, 413-545-5204 or

All reported concerns are promptly acted upon and brought to the attention of the UMass Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). An IACUC member is appointed to investigate and promptly report findings to the IACUC. If a problem is discovered, a plan is developed to resolve the issue as soon as possible and prevent it in the future. The result of the investigation is reported back to the person who lodged the complaint. 

As required by federal law or agreement with funding agencies, OLAW, USDA, and federal and/or private funding agencies are notified of significant problems along with a timetable for correction.

Animal Care staff check animals for health and well-being, and provide water and food, every day of the year, including weekends and holidays. The Director of Animal Care/Attending Veterinarian observes all the animals at least once per week. Cleaning is performed on a regular schedule to provide the animals with the best possible environment and to comply with species-specific requirements of the federal animal welfare laws.

The laboratory animals live in facilities at several sites, in quarters approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which are monitored and inspected regularly for compliance with federal animal welfare laws. Facilities are located as close as possible to the classrooms and laboratories where the animals are used to minimize transportation stress. Heating, ventilation, air conditioning, humidity, lighting, and access are carefully controlled to maintain the health of the colonies.