Chapter 15: Animal Care and Use in University Research, Testing, and Education Programs
All vertebrate animal use inclusive of research, teaching, and testing activities at the University of Nevada, Reno must be conducted in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations, and guidelines regardless of the source of funding or location of activity. The program of animal care and use at the University is bound by the animal welfare standards, oversight mechanisms, and reporting requirements delineated by the USDA Animal Welfare Regulations, the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (last revised in March 2015), and the standards and guidelines of AAALAC International. Accordingly, compliance with these regulations requires that assurance is provided that all personnel at risk are appropriately encompassed within the program of safety, inclusive of specific safeguards for animal experimentation with hazardous agents.
Proper attention is expected for the development and implementation of proper procedures for animal care and housing, storage and distribution of hazardous agents, dose preparation and administration to animals, body fluid and tissue handling, waste and carcass disposal, items which might be used temporarily and then removed from the work location (e.g., written records, experimental devices, sample vials), and appropriately selected methods for personnel protection.
The University Biosafety Manual provides the campus-wide guidance upon which project-specific standard operating procedures involving the use of hazardous agents in animals are developed, which then must be approved prior to implementation by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Thus, vertebrate animal studies involving the use of etiological agents or recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules must be pre-approved by both the IACUC and the IBC.
Animal Resources and the IACUC
Animal Resources is a service core with campus-wide animal welfare compliance authority which reports to the University Vice President for Research and Innovation and the Assistant Vice-President for Research Administration. For professional guidance on technical and species-appropriate methods for the care and use of vertebrate animals in teaching and research activities, please contact the Office of Animal Resources to facilitate project-specific planning for appropriate selection of housing equipment, space, and methodologies.
The staff of Animal Resources provide animal husbandry, technical services, veterinary care, and welfare compliance oversight for all projects at the University, and is overseen by Benjamin Weigler, DVM, MPH, Ph.D., DACLAM, DACVPM. Dr. Weigler is the campus Attending Veterinarian and also serves on the IBC to help the BSO foster communication and coordination between the work of the IACUC and the IBC.
Details regarding the expectations and services of Animal Resources can be found on their pages of the University website (unr.edu/animal-resources). IACUC-related topics, including the campus-wide training requirements for animal users, are overviewed on their own website pages (unr.edu/iacuc). Requests to the IACUC and the IBC for the use of hazardous agents in animal studies must detail the specific methods to be used for housing and caring for animals exposed experimentally, with emphasis on the management and safety practices for containment of each class of agent as well as the protection of personnel. The guiding documents for development of experimental plans are this biosafety manual, Animal Resources policies and procedures, and applicable sections of the BMBL and NIH Guidelines. In serious cases of non-compliance, progressive discipline according to University personnel policies will result, including the potential loss of privileges for the use of research and teaching animals and access to the University campus animal facilities.