Guidance Principles

The UAPWC and Animal Care and Use Committees are responsible for overseeing all animal care and use undertaken during research and teaching by members of the institution, and ensuring compliance with institutional and CCAC standards and guidelines.

In practice, the ACUC works side-by-side with the University Veterinarian, Animal Facility veterinarians, and animal care staff to oversee the ethical and appropriate care and use of animals. The University Veterinarian and Senior Officer, Animal Care and Use are specifically appointed to represent the ACUC and act as compliance officers, while the Facility Directors/veterinarians provide assistance with operations.

A few Guidance Principles have been developed to help individuals involved in research using animals ensure they maintain compliance with CCAC guidelines and UAlberta Policies and Procedures.

Detailed animal use protocols

Make sure your animal use protocol (AUP) is complete and detailed so that your research team, the ACUC and the animal support services unit understand all the elements of your proposed animal care and use.

Your research team members must have animal-use training appropriate for the work they will perform and they must have access to all relevant AUP materials and SOPs. Standard operating procedures should be kept up-to-date. 

Review and approval of a new animal-use protocol can take time, so apply early.

Expiration dates and resubmissions

Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) approvals are valid for one year.

Protocol renewals must be resubmitted for review on an annual basis, and generally must be submitted at least two months before expiry date (at least three months for 4th year full renewals), to allow time for review and changes.

Submit amendments for any changes to your protocol

If you need to make a change or addition to your protocol, you must submit an amendment for approval to the Animal Care and Use Committee. Depending on the significance or magnitude of the change, it may be reviewed and approved by the ACUC Chair or by a subcommittee. 

Revisions which are more likely to cause a change in animal welfare are more likely to be referred to the full ACUC. Multiple changes are also more likely to require review by the full ACUC.

Examples of changes requiring an amendment before implementation include additions of animal numbers, new species, new procedures or additional instances of procedures (i.e. increased number of samples to be taken), new drugs or other agents, unapproved or unexpected levels of pain, distress, or mortality.

Approvals for emergency amendments

Emergency/provisional approval of some types of amendments such as changes to anesthetics or analgesics may be provided by a Veterinarian following contact (phone or email) by one of the research team members, and can be documented by the Veterinarian within the ARISE system. Appropriate documentation in the form of an Amendment submission must follow in a timely fashion.

Perform only those procedures approved in your protocol

Ensure that everyone on the protocol is familiar with all its procedures and that they understand that protocols must be followed to the letter. Perform procedures only as many times as approved for the experimental design described in your AUP. 

Follow institutional Standard Operating Procedures

iSOPs (institutional Standard Operating Procedures) that are approved and available in the ARISE system incorporate current best practices for animal welfare and institutional and facility specifics.

Document any observations or procedures

All procedures performed on an animal should be recorded on a document (e.g. cage card) that is accessible by the veterinary and animal care staff.

Monitor post-procedure animals according to the schedule outlined in the approved protocol

Follow the protocol exactly as written, even if it means checking on an animal on the weekend or in the middle of the night. If the monitoring frequency seems too stringent, check with the veterinary staff to see if it can be modified by submitting an amendment.

Develop and follow a reliable system for ensuring humane endpoint monitoring is conducted

Ensure that everyone named on the protocol / working with animals can recognize signs of animal distress and/or compromised health that would necessitate intervention or euthanasia.

Communicate with veterinary staff regarding the health status of post-procedural animals

If an animal develops any complications following a procedure, you must promptly communicate those complications to the veterinary staff.

Allow only lab staff listed on the approved protocol to perform procedures on animals

Ensure that all staff are added to the protocol and have been satisfactorily trained to perform all procedures assigned to them. Do not allow new staff or students to participate until they have completed necessary and required training.