IACUC Policy: Investigating Animal Concerns and Noncompliance
Policy # IBT-113.00 IACUC Approval: February 27, 2014

Purpose: 
Texas A&M Health Science Center promotes the highest standards of animal care and use and is committed to the humane and responsible treatment of all animals being used for research, testing, or education.

Scope:
This policy applies to all reported animal welfare concerns and noncompliance subject to oversight by Texas A&M Health Science Center animal facilities and laboratories.

 Responsibilities:
IACUC Office and IACUC – Investigate any animal health and welfare concerns and to keep records of any investigations. Communicate IACUC decisions to the investigator and Institutional official.

 Complaint Assessment committee – Investigate any and all allegations and present information to the IACUC.

 Institutional Official – Report any non-compliance to OLAW and AAALAC. Send copies of letters from OLAW to the IACUC office.

 Procedure:
If there is animal suffering, the campus veterinarian may take any action required, including supportive care or euthanasia of the animals concerned. While a good faith effort will be made to contact the PI, this process can occur without the PI's knowledge.

Once the animal's welfare is addressed, the alleged violation will be investigated by the IACUC.  A Complaint Assessment committee will be formed.

  1. This committee will comprise the IACUC chair, Attending Veterinarian, a representative of the HSC Office of Research Compliance, and at least 1 IACUC member.
  2. If there is a conflict of interest between the Principal Investigator (PI) and the IACUC Chair (such as same college affiliation), the vice-chair will assume responsibility for the proceedings.
  3. The PI will be verbally notified of the violation within 24 hours of the report and informed of the actions necessary to correct the problem immediately.
  4. The Complaint Assessment Committee will investigate the violation within 72 hours of the report. At the end of this time, the PI will be notified in writing of the issues in non-compliance and provided with the opportunity to respond to the Committee.
  5. Once the Complaint Assessment Committee has determined the response they will notify the IO.
  6. In reports involving significant harm to animal welfare, the entire IACUC will meet within 7 days of the investigation to recommend a course of action. At that time the PI will be given the opportunity to address the committee. In other cases, the Complaint Assessment Committee will present the report and its investigation at a regularly scheduled IACUC meeting.

The IACUC has several options:

  1. The immediate corrective response was appropriate and sufficient.
  2. Retraining of the PI and his/her laboratory staff is required, but no suspension is recommended .
  3. Suspension of animal research and relearning programs for the PI and the laboratory staff.   
        a. If the IACUC votes (simple majority of the members present) to suspend the PI's research activities, the Vice President for Research will be notified within one working day of the meeting. The Vice President will notify the PI and must also notify the NIH Office of Lab Animal Welfare (OLAW).
        b. A subsequent meeting of the IACUC will be called to determine if the PI has met the stipulations assessed by the committee and will vote on lifting the suspension. The PI (and the Vice President) will be notified of the results of this meeting immediately in writing by the IACUC Chair.

References

  1. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA. US Animal Welfare Act (AWA 1990) and Regulations (PL-89-544, as amended, 7USC Ch. 54) 2008. CFR Title 9, Subchapter A - Animal Welfare. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
  2. National Research Council. Institute for Laboratory Animal Research. 2011. Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Public Health Service, Bethesda, MD.
  3. Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals http://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/references/phspol.htm.
  4. Silverman, Jerald, et.al. 2000. The IACUC Handbook: The Basic Unit of an Effective Animal Care and Use Program. Baltimore, MD.
  5. ARENA/OLAW Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Guidebook, 2nd Ed. 2002.
  6. NOT-OD-05-034-Guidance on Prompt Reporting to OLAW under the PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals

History:

Version 00 -  Initial approval – February 27, 2014