CCAC policy statement on: ethics of animal investigation
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The use of animals in research, teaching, and testing is acceptable ONLY
if it promises to contribute to understanding of fundamental biological
principles, or to the development of knowledge that can reasonably be expected
to benefit humans or animals.
Animals should be used only if the
researcher's best efforts to find an alternative have failed. A continuing
sharing of knowledge, review of the literature, and adherence to the
Russell-Burch "3R" tenet of "Replacement, Reduction and Refinement" are also
requisites. Those using animals should employ the most humane methods on the
smallest number of appropriate animals required to obtain valid information. The
following principles incorporate suggestions from members of both the scientific
and animal welfare communities, as well as the organizations represented on
Council. They should be applied in conjunction with CCAC's Guide to the Care
and Use of Experimental Animals:
- If animals must be used, they should be maintained in a manner that provides
for their physical comfort and psychological well-being, according to the CCAC
policy statement on: Social and Behavioral Requirements of Experimental Animals.
- Animals must not be subjected to unnecessary pain or distress. The
experimental design must offer them every practicable safeguard, whether in
research, in teaching or in testing procedures; cost and convenience must not
take precedence over the animal's physical and mental well-being.
- Expert opinion must attest to the potential value of studies with animals.
The following procedures, which are restricted, require independent, external
evaluation to justify their use:
- burns, freezing injuries, fractures, and other types of trauma investigation
in anesthetized animals, concomitant to which must be acceptable veterinary
practices for the relief of pain, including adequate analgesia during the
- staged encounters between predator and prey or between conspecifics where
prolonged fighting and injury are probable.
- If pain or distress is a necessary concomitant to the study, it must be
minimized both in intensity and duration. Investigators, animal care committees,
grant review committees and referees must be especially cautious in evaluating
the proposed use of the following procedures:
- experiments involving withholding pre and post-operative pain-relieving
- paralyzing and immobilizing experiments where there is no reduction in the
sensation of pain;
- electric shock as negative reinforcement;
- extreme environmental conditions such as low or high temperatures, high
humidity, modified atmospheres, etc., or sudden changes therein;
- experiments studying stress and pain;
- experiments requiring withholding of food and water for periods incompatible
with the species specific physiological needs; such experiments should have no
detrimental effect on the health of the animal;
- injection of Freund's Complete Adjuvant. This must be carried out in
accordance with the CCAC policy statement on: acceptable immunological procedures.
- An animal observed to be experiencing severe, unrelievable pain or
discomfort should immediately be humanely killed, using a method providing
initial rapid unconsciousness.
- While non-recovery procedures involving anesthetized animals, and studies
involving no pain or distress are considered acceptable, the following
experimental procedures inflict excessive pain and are thus
- utilization of muscle relaxants or paralytics (curare and curare-like)
alone, without anesthetics, during surgical procedures;
- traumatizing procedures involving crushing, burning, striking or beating in
- Studies such as toxicological and biological testing, cancer research and
infectious disease investigation may, in the past, have required continuation
until the death of the animal. However, in the face of distinct signs that such
processes are causing irreversible pain or distress, alternative endpoints
should be sought to satisfy both the requirements of the study and the needs of
- Physical restraint should only be used after alternative procedures have
been fully considered and found inadequate. Animals so restrained must receive
exceptional care and attention, in compliance with species specific and general
requirements as set forth in the Guide to the Care and Use of Experimental Animals.
- Painful experiments or multiple invasive procedures on an individual animal,
conducted solely for the instruction of students in the classroom, or for the
demonstration of established scientific knowledge, cannot be justified.
Audiovisual or other alternative techniques should be employed to convey such
revised October 1989