Oversight of animals at U of T
Animal care committees
U of T has a University Animal Care Committee (UACC) that is mandated to safeguard the welfare of animals used in science by:
Setting animal research policies and standards
Ensuring that U of T conforms to all mandatory guidelines and legal requirements.
The UACC is comprised of at least one community representative, researchers, staff, U of T veterinarians, Local Animal Care Committees (LACC) Chairpersons and trainees. The UACC meets regularly to discuss the appropriateness of current institutional standards and processes and to decide on changes to various program elements that would improve animal welfare.
There are also two Local Animal Care Committees (LACC) that report to the University Animal Care Committee. Their primary responsibilities are to oversee the functioning of the various local animal care and use programs at U of T through mechanisms such as:
Touring animal facilities to assess their state and review operations
Addressing any concerns that have arisen
Reviewing all proposals to use animals for ethical merit.
Requirements prior to any animals used in science
Local Animal Care Committees (LACCs) have a very important role and must perform the reviews of proposed animal use protocol (AUP) details to determine if and how the animals can be used ethically and humanely. If the LACC is not satisfied that the proposed animal use is both ethical and humane, it will not approve until required changes are made to proposals and then approved.
The LACCs also carefully consider how the three Rs will be applied in their evaluations and approval is required prior to any animal being used in science. If there are no suitable alternatives, animals will be considered, and the necessary number of animals must be justified by the researchers and approved (reduction). Then, the focus is on refinement, which aims to determine in each animal’s case how their welfare can be optimized. The scientific activities are then continually monitored to determine if/how the 3Rs can be further implemented.
A critical part of animal use in research being ethical involves ensuring that the research questions being addressed using animals are scientifically sound and worth pursuing. That is, it is first confirmed that they have scientific merit.
Similarly, animals are only used in teaching/training if it has been demonstrated that the learning objectives are best achieved through activities that involve animals. That is, pedagogical merit must first be demonstrated. This includes an assessment of whether suitable non-animal alternatives exist to achieve learning outcomes.
Internal oversight of animals being used in science
U of T’s dedicated team responsible for the ethical and humane oversight of animals runs the Post-Approval Review Program known as PAR. U of T’s PAR Program has several components to help ensure day-to-day animal use in science conforms to the details of approved Animal Use Protocols (AUPs) and other best practice standards. Having a PAR program is mandated by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) and includes:
Quality assurance visits to ensure the ethics protocol, regulations, policies and guidelines are being followed; and to provide assistance in finding solutions to optimize animal welfare
Active and ongoing monitoring and care of animals by veterinary staff
Animal welfare documents and records
Ongoing education and training.
Questions about the animal program? Contact email@example.com.
Training all those who conduct research or teach with animals
U of T professors are responsible for all research projects listed under their name as the Principal Investigator (PI). They require a valid Animal Use Protocol which affirms that the Animal Care Committee has examined the ethical merit of their research proposal and approved the use of animals.
PIs work with a range of people involved in carrying out the day-to-day research activities including students, post-doctoral fellows, research staff and registered veterinary technicians.
Everyone at U of T who works with animals require specialized ethics and practical training to ensure they have the skills and knowledge needed to work with and care for the animals. They are observed during training (and during site visits) to ensure they meet/continue to meet our rigorous requirements.