NIH Animal Use Guidelines

The following guidelines are reprinted from "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals" (NIH publication #86-23, revised 1985). This publication is a widely accepted primary reference on the professional and humane use and care of animals.

The ability of biomedical scientists to enhance the well-being of humans and animals depends directly on advancements made possible by research, much of which requires the use of experimental animals. The scientific community has long recognized both a scientific and an ethical responsibility for the humane care of animals, and all who care for or use animals in research, testing, and education must assume responsibility for their general welfare. It is especially important to recognize that the intent of research is to provide data that will advance knowledge of immediate or potential benefit to humans and animals. Scientists have developed, and should continue to develop and use, scientifically valid adjunctive or alternative methods to animal experimentation.

Institutional animal facilities and programs should be operated in accordance with the requirements and recommendations of this Guide, the Animal Welfare Act (P.L. 89-544, as amended by P.L. 91-579 and P.L. 94-279), and other applicable federal (Appendixes C and D), state, and local laws, regulations, and policies. Nothing in the Guide is intended to limit an investigator’s freedom — indeed, obligation— to plan and conduct animal experiments in accord with scientific and humane principles. It is envisioned that the Guide will encourage scientists to seek improved methods of laboratory animal care and use. Finally, it should be understood by all who use the Guide that it is deliberately written in general terms so that the recommendations can be applied in the diverse institutions that produce or use animals for research, testing, and education. Professional judgment is essential in the application of these guidelines.

For the purposes of this Guide, laboratory animals include any warm-blooded vertebrate animal used in research, testing, and education. Although marine mammals and cold-blooded animals are not discussed specifically, the humane principles stated are applicable to their care and use. The Guide deals with farm animals in the context of their use in biomedical research—not with their use in research on production agriculture.

Public Health Service Policy On Humane Care And Use Of Laboratory Animals

The Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals by Awardee Institutions was updated in 1985. In the policy statement, the PHS endorses the U.S. government "Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research, and Education" (reprinted below), which were developed by the Interagency Research Animal Committee. The PHS policy implements and supplements these principles. Information concerning the policy can be obtained from the Office for Protection from Research Risks, National Institutes of Health, Building 31, Room 4B09, Bethesda, MD 20205.

The principles below were prepared by the Interagency Research Animal Committee. This committee, which was established in 1983 serves as a focal point for federal agencies’ discussions of issues involving all animal species needed for biomedical research and testing. The committee’s principal concerns are the conservation, use, care, and welfare of research animals. Its responsibilities include information exchange, program coordination, and contributions to policy development.

The development of knowledge necessary for the improvement of the health and well-being of humans as well as other animals requires in vivo experimentation with a wide variety of animal species. Whenever U.S. Government agencies develop requirements for testing, research, or training procedures involving the use of vertebrate animals, the following principles shall be considered; and whenever these agencies actually perform or sponsor such procedures, the responsible institutional official shall ensure that these principles are adhered to:

I. The transportation, care, and use of animals should be in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act (7 U.S.C. 2131) and other applicable Federal laws, guidelines and policies.

II. Procedures involving animals should be designed and performed with due consideration of their relevance to human or animal health, the advancement of knowledge, or the good of society.

III. The animals selected for a procedure should be of an appropriate species and quality and the minimum number required to obtain valid results. Methods such as mathematical models, computer simulation, and in vitro biological systems should be considered.

IV. Proper use of animals, including the avoidance or minimization of discomfort, distress, and pain when consistent with sound scientific practices, is imperative. Unless the contrary is established, investigators should consider that procedures that cause pain or distress in human beings may cause pain or distress in other animals.

V. Procedures with animals that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress should be performed with appropriate sedation, analgesia, or anesthesia. Surgical or other painful procedures should not be performed on unanesthetized animals paralyzed by chemical agents.

VI. Animals that would otherwise suffer severe or chronic pain or distress that cannot be relieved should be painlessly killed at the end of the procedure or, if appropriate, during the procedure.

VII. The living conditions of animals should be appropriate for their species and contribute to their health and comfort. Normally, the housing, feeding, and care of all animals used for biomedical purposes must be directed by a veterinarian or other scientist trained and experienced in the proper care, handling, and use of the species being maintained or studied. In any case, veterinary care shall be provided as indicated.

VIII. Investigators and other personnel shall be appropriately qualified and experienced for conducting procedures on living animals. Adequate arrangements shall be made for their in-service training, including the proper and humane care of laboratory animals.

IX. Where exceptions are required in relation to the provisions of these Principles, the decisions should not rest with the investigators directly concerned but should be made, with due regard to Principle II, by an appropriate review group such as an institutional animal research committee. Such exceptions should not be made solely for the purposes of teaching or demonstration.