Animal Care Facility

  • A. Access

    Saint Francis University Animal Care Facility provides and promotes the highest quality and most humane animal care and strive to create an environment which is productive for research and teaching, while fully compliant with the highest standards of animal care and use. Any issues concerning the animals should be directed to the IO or Chair of the IACUC.

    1. Approved Access
    Access to animal facilities is strictly limited to individuals on an approved IACUC protocol who have had the appropriate orientation including the basic training module in the care and use of animals and facility-specific orientation. After an IACUC protocol has been approved and training has been completed, a key to the appropriate animal facility may be obtained by filling out a key request form and sending it through the IO or Chair of the IACUC. The IO or Chair will attach a memo to the key request stating access to the facility has been approved. PIs who utilize the facility to train students may allow students who do not have approval to enter the facility only under their direct supervision. As we strive to maintain healthy, clean and safe animals, it is important that all individuals ensure that only trained and approved individuals are allowed to enter facilities.

    2. Visitors
    Visitors (anyone not listed on an approved protocol), including the press, are generally not allowed. Exceptions may be allowed by special permission from the IO or Chair of the IACUC.

    3. Centralized Purchase of Animals/Animal Products
    Animals may only be purchased, procured or received through the central purchasing systems established by the School of Science. The School of Science procurement system is used for all animal and related animal products (i.e. cages, food, and bedding). This includes animals that are not purchased (e.g., those transferred from another University) but which are being brought into the University. This centralized system is a critical component of the University's compliance program, ensuring that all animals are procured under an approved protocol and the number of animals being bred or procured is consistent with the total number of animals approved by the IACUC. PI's must assure that animals are housed appropriately on arrival, and that new animals do not endanger the health of existing colonies.

    B. Housing Standards

    Appropriate housing is a key concern in regards to animal welfare. The NRC Guide to the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals ( and the USDA regulations provide guidelines regarding housing issues, including cage size, cage type and numbers of animals per cage (density). Any variance to the standards for animal housing specified in the Guide or regulations must be specifically reviewed and approved by the IACUC.

    1. Overcrowded Cages
    As outlined in the section on Housing Standards, there are guidelines regarding the allowable number of animals per cage (density). Any variance to these standards must be approved by the IACUC. The IACUC will request full justification from the PI on scientific grounds and documentation that under the requested variance the animals' environment will meet the standards (e.g., fecal build-up, ammonia levels, etc.) for humane care.

    When overcrowding which has not been approved in advance occurs and is noted by the IO, Chair of the IACUC or animal care facility staff, the IO or Chair will contact the PI and place an "OVERCROWDED" cage card on the appropriate cages. It is the PI's responsibility to resolve the overcrowding problem.

    C. Animal Care

    1. IACUC Standard Animal Care
    Standard animal care varies by facility and species. Investigators should consult the IACUC and veterinarian to understand the usual care, which will be provided, including such elements as food, housing density, and cage change frequency. The PI is responsible to make certain that his/her research animals are meeting these standards.

    2. Documenting Animal Care
    "If it is not documented, it did not happen." This phrase is often used in the patient care setting and is equally relevant when it comes to providing care (clean bedding, food, water, health checks, etc) to animals. The requirement for documentation belongs with the PI for care of his/her research animals. Check-off sheets are posted in each animal room by which the frequency and completion of animal care duties are recorded. The IACUC will review these sheets regularly to make certain Standard Animal Care is met.

    D. Ensuring Animal Health

    1. Health Maintenance
    Animals under a PI’s care must be observed daily. In all cases, observations should include checking for signs of pain or distress. Unanticipated pain or distress (e.g., due to illness or injury not described in an approved animal use protocol) must be reported to the IO or Chair of the IACUC.

    2. Health Problems
    Investigators who observe abnormalities should report these to the IACUC Chair or Vet of Record. Room monitoring sheets outside each animal room record health problems or deaths. Investigators should work closely with the Chair of the IACUC or Vet of Record to determine the cause and most appropriate treatment for health problems that arise.

    3. Veterinary Care: Reporting Sick, Injured or Dead Animals
    Any unusual illness, injury and death of laboratory animals must be reported immediately to the IO, Chair of the IACUC, and Vet of Record. This policy applies to all teaching and/or research animals that are housed at the animal care facility or approved satellite facilities. With the exception of first aid or emergency life-support provided by appropriately trained personnel, animals should not be treated for illness or injury prior to consultation with the consulting veterinarian or emergency veterinarian.

    E. Facilities Inspections

    1. Inspections by the IACUC
    To ensure that the animal program continues to reflect the highest standards of animal care and use and in compliance with regulatory requirements, the IACUC performs semi-annual facilities inspections as part of its semi-annual program review. The IACUC inspects all central animal care facilities, as well as all satellite labs where animals are maintained for periods longer than 12 hours or where survival surgery is performed. Inspection teams consist of at least two
    members of the IACUC usually including the consulting veterinarian and/or the Chair or the chair’s designee. The team evaluates each area for compliance using the Animal Welfare regulations and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals to ensure conditions are in accordance with the humane care of animals and for adherence to the approved protocol. Inspection teams review each area for issues such as general cleanliness, proper storage of food, proper disposal of animal waste, lack of clutter, and conditions that pose a threat to the well being of animals (e.g., storage of flammable or toxic substances next to animal cages). The teams also determine whether surgical procedures are performed using proper aseptic techniques (e.g., use of gloves, masks, sterile instruments, isolated area for surgery) as required, whether the areas where the animals are maintained satisfy the criteria for sanitation and impervious surfaces,
    and whether animals are being housed outside of approved housing facilities.

    In addition to inspecting the facilities, inspection teams may question the PI and members of the research team about the standards of animal care and use, the ethics governing animal use, the specific procedures being performed and the content of the approved protocol. PI's are reminded that all members of the research team should have read and be familiar with the protocol and copies should be readily available as reference tools in the laboratory.

    For each room, the inspection team completes an inspection form and indicates any problems that the team identified. For each item, the IACUC agrees on a timeframe for its resolution. The results of the semi-annual inspections are summarized in a report which is submitted to the Institutional Official. Questions regarding the inspection process may be addressed to either the IACUC chair or an IACUC member.

    2. Inspections by the USDA
    Although the OLAW will conduct on-site audits for cause, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducts inspections on a regular, usually annual, basis. These inspections involve a thorough review of all aspects of an institution's animal care and use program. In addition to a facilities inspection, the inspector may examine records of the IO and IACUC policies for compliance with all applicable regulations. The inspector may review the IACUC minutes for the preceding year and will identify protocols involving USDA covered species for in depth review. During the site visits, which are unannounced, the inspector interviews a number of key individuals responsible for administering the program.

    F.  Animal Usage Outside of Facilities

    1. On-Campus Satellite Animal Facilities
    The regulations require that any facility in which animals are housed must comply in full with the requirements of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. These requirements include issues of cage size, HVAC, illumination, etc. It is difficult for research laboratories to achieve these standards, and accordingly, the IACUC and the IO rarely approve the use of rooms outside of centrally managed facilities for housing research animals. To request IACUC approval to use a facility outside centrally managed animal facilities for animal housing, the PI should complete Appendix C of the IACUC Approval Form and fully explain why central facilities cannot be used. The IACUC will notify the investigator by letter if the room use request has been approved. Changes in the usage of rooms or location of rooms used for animal work must be approved by the IO and the IACUC prior to initiation of those changes. Any external sites where live animals are housed or survival surgery on animals is performed will be inspected by the IACUC on a semi-annual basis.

    2. Animal Transport
    While the majority of animals remain in the centrally managed facilities, there are some types of research that necessitate that the animals are moved from the central facilities to individual laboratories. Such a requirement must be justified on scientific grounds and is subject to the prior approval of the IACUC. In approving the transport of animals from the central animal facilities to a remote location, the IACUC will consider issues of employee health, safety and sensitivity. Every effort must be made to lessen the opportunity for cross-contamination between humans and animals, and to avoid exposure to individuals who may be sensitive to the use of animals in research and teaching.

    G. Disposal of Animal Remains

    The School of Science Animal Care Facility has SOP's for carcass disposal and the PI needs to refer to those. If you are deviating from the SOP's, explain in the IACUC protocol submission form what will be done and justify. Biohazardous materials are not currently approved for use in animal research at SFU and thus there should not be any biohazardous waste materials in animal remains.