I. OBJECTIVE & PURPOSE
The primary purpose of this policy is to satisfy requirements of the Animal Welfare Act, Animal Welfare Regulations, and Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (PHS Policy), and to provide clarification and interpretation of these laws to UNF Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) members, administrators, researchers, instructors, students, and any other UNF affiliates that use vertebrate animals for teaching or research.
In addition to adhering to the law, the intent of the policy is to ensure that teaching and research with vertebrate animals is done in a humane way, while understanding that use of animals is essential for some teaching and research activities. The continuing goal is to reduce, refine, and replace use of vertebrate animals when possible to promote humane treatment (also known as "the 3 Rs"). "Reduction" is decreasing the number of animals to the minimum needed to yield accurate test results or adequate educational opportunities. "Refinement" is adjustment of procedures, such as housing conditions or analgesia applications, with the goal of having the animal experience only minimal discomfort. "Replacement" is substituting other systems for vertebrate animal use; examples include cell culture, chemical tests, computer simulations, or invertebrate animals.
II. STATEMENT OF POLICY
This policy applies to all activities involving contact with or manipulation of live vertebrate animals by any UNF faculty, staff, or student, for any teaching or research endeavors affiliated with UNF. It does not apply to the use of tissues, organs, or other parts of dead animals if the animals were not euthanized for the collection of these tissues; nor to the observation of wild animals in their natural habitat without any capture or handling of the animals nor any manipulation of their habitat.
The University of North Florida has established an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which is qualified through the experience and expertise of its members to oversee the Institution's animal activities and facilities, as defined in the previous paragraph. IACUCs derive their authority from the Health Research Extension Act (HREA) of 1985 and the Animal Welfare Act. These laws require the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of an organization to appoint the IACUC, whose responsibilities are delineated in the law and federal policy and regulations. The Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) considers the CEO to be the highest operating official of the organization. The President of the University of North Florida delegates authority through the Institutional Official (IO) to appoint the membership of the IACUC. The Assistant Vice President for Research is the appointed IO at the University of North Florida, and is given the administrative and operational authority to ensure compliance with the laws and other requirements.
The IACUC has the following authority:
- Review and approve, require modifications in, and withhold approval of proposed activities, or protocols, related to the care and use of animals.
- Review and approve, require modifications in, or withhold approval of proposed significant changes regarding the care and use of animals in ongoing activities.
- Conduct annual reviews of protocols.
- Perform semiannual evaluations of animal care and use facilities.
By law, the IACUC's authority to review and approve protocols is independent of the IO and CEO, neither of whom may overrule an IACUC decision to withhold approval of a protocol. If the IACUC approves a protocol, however, the Institution is not required or obligated to conduct the research activity. The Institution may also subject protocols to additional institutional review (e.g., department chair, Biosafety committee).
The IACUC's mandate to perform semiannual evaluations of animal care and use facilities is in an advisory role to the IO. In its semiannual reports, the IACUC advises the IO of the status of the Institution's compliance, establishes plans and schedules for correcting deficiencies necessary to either maintain or achieve compliance, and makes recommendation to the IO regarding any aspect of the Institution's animal program, facilities, or personnel training.
The IACUC also is responsible for being properly trained, reviewing and deciding on protocol applications promptly, monitoring approved protocols, investigating concerns for animal welfare, reporting as needed with appropriate regulatory and funding agencies, and conducting semi-annual inspections and reports.
Finally, the IACUC is responsible for establishing detailed Standard Operating Procedures that comply with this policy and with the federal, state, and local laws, policies, and guidances.