The keystone of the Canadian system of oversight for the ethics and care of animals in science is the local institutional animal care committee (ACC) set up by each participating institution. The composition of the committee should adhere to the CCAC policy on: terms of reference for animal care committees. ACCs are responsible for overseeing all aspects of animal ethics and care at their institution.
ACCs undertake animal care protocol review, approval, and follow-up. Other responsibilities include working with their institution’s administration to ensure that appropriate:
- facilities are being used and are well maintained and managed;
- veterinary and animal care services are in place;
- training programs are in place; and
- occupational health and safety and crisis management programs are in place.
ACC membership will vary but should include:
- scientists and/or teachers with experience working with animals;
- institutional member who does not work with animals;
- experienced veterinarian(s);
- community representative(s);
- technical staff representative (manager);
- student representative (where students are present);
- ACC coordinator; and
- others as needed (e.g. person(s) responsible for health and safety/biosafety, biostatisticians, ethicists, public relations liaisons).
The ACC reports to the senior institutional administrator responsible for animal ethics and care (e.g. VP Research, President, CEO).
CCAC assessment panels carry out visits to institutions participating in CCAC programs. Assessments are based on CCAC guidelines, policies, and associated documents, and the panel reviews all aspects of the animal ethics and care program pertaining to research, teaching, and testing. The panel also assesses procedures and facilities for proper animal ethics and care, and notes any matters that may not be in accordance with the CCAC’s guidelines and policies. The panel then reports its observations and recommendations to the CCAC Assessment and Certification Committee.
Each assessment panel is comprised of at least one scientist/instructor and a veterinarian, selected for their experience in animal experimentation and care relevant to the institution to be visited. Each panel also includes a community representative, usually drawn from the geographical area of the institution. A CCAC associate director of assessment is present at every assessment visit as an ex officio member of the assessment panel. All panel members, except for CCAC employees, serve voluntarily and without remuneration, except expenses.
The Assessment and Certification Committee is a CCAC standing committee responsible for the assessment and certification of animal ethics and care programs of academic, government, and private organizations. The committee oversees the proper functioning of the CCAC Assessment and Certification program.
The Committee is comprised of a chairperson and at least eleven other members that reflect, to the greatest extent possible, the diversity of the animal welfare and ethics community and society, including community representatives, veterinarians, scientists, and animal care committee members. They are knowledgeable about the CCAC Assessment and Certification program through participation in the animal ethics and care program of their own institution and through participation as panel members on assessment visits.
The Committee is responsible for the following:
- developing assessment and certification policies and making recommendations to the CCAC Board of Directors;
- recommending improvements to the Assessment and Certification program;
- reviewing reports for all organisations that are part of the CCAC Assessment and Certification program, including assessment and implementation reports and updates provided by these organisations to the CCAC; and
- making decisions on the assessment and certification of institutions on behalf of the CCAC Board of Directors including:
- providing certification;
- assigning probationary certification;
- removing CCAC certification; and
- reinstating CCAC certification following the loss of certification or assignment of probationary certification.