The Animal Welfare Act was signed into law in 1966. It is the only Federal law in the United States that regulates the treatment of animals in research, exhibition, transport, and by dealers. Other laws, policies, and guidelines may include additional species coverage or specifications for animal care and use, but all refer to the Animal Welfare Act as the minimum acceptable standard. The Act is enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. You may find this Animal Welfare Information Center brochure helpful:
Research involving animals at UAMS must be approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). A completed Animal Use Protocol (AUP) form must be submitted for each research project. For more information, please refer to the UAMS IACUC website: http://inside.uams.edu/iacuc/
Part of the AUP is Assurance Statement #1, in which the researcher is asked to provide a brief statement of animal alternatives that pertain to the research described in the AUP. The Animal Welfare Act is concerned with three aspects of animal alternatives, referred to as the three Rs: refinement, replacement, and reduction. Refinement refers to ameliorating pain and other adverse effects of the research procedures. Replacement means substituting a lower-order species for a higher-order species. Reduction refers to a reduction in the number of animals used.
The UAMS IACUC requires that AUPs involving USDA-regulated species contain (i.e., have pasted in) literature search strategies used to find alternatives information in large bibliographic databases such as PubMed or Web of Science. The UAMS Library offers a service in which the searches are performed and the results and the ready-to-paste strategies are delivered to AUP writers; please contact Susan Steelman at 686-6737 or via email at SCSteelman@uams.edu for more information. Susan can also assist those who wish to perform the literature searches themselves and need more information about the requirements, e.g., animal alternative search terms, timeliness, and focus.
AUPs involving only non-USDA species, including farm animals used for food or fiber (fur, hide, etc.); cold blooded species (amphibians and reptiles); horses not used for research purposes; fish; invertebrates (crustaceans, insects, etc.); or birds, rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus that are bred for use in research, do not require the pasting-in of search strategies. However, Assurance Statement #1 must still be addressed in the protocol. Some options are described below.
There are several ways in which the three Rs can be considered and addressed for a specific research project. A search of published literature about similar research may uncover new information about pain control or species substitution. PubMed and Web of Science are two excellent sources of such literature. There are also websites built around animal alternatives, such as:
The NIH database of funded research projects, NIH RePORT can also be searched to find descriptions of similar research.
Other possibilities for learning about alternatives are discussions with leading researchers in the area of the project, attending presentations at conferences, or receiving automatic updates about new literature published in the relevant subject area. More information about creating automatic updates from PubMed can be found at My NCBI . The “My Bookshelf” feature of Browzine can be used to collect ongoing tables of contents from specific journals in relevant research areas.