The Care and Use of Animals at UC Berkeley
February 19, 2003
The University of California, Berkeley, is committed to the highest standard of animal care and use and is proud of its professional animal care and use program. UC Berkeley's program is fully accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International — a non-profit, private, peer organization that insists upon the highest standards of welfare for research animals — and complies fully with the U.S. Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, the National Research Council's Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Welfare Act Regulations regarding the care and use of animals in a research setting.
As part of its compliance with federal Animal Welfare Act Regulations, UC Berkeley is subject to random, unannounced inspections by USDA veterinarians. Enforcement is strict: failure to comply with USDA regulations can result in civil or criminal prosecution and suspension of animal research activities. The U.S. Public Health Service also reviews UC Berkeley annually for compliance with its policies and the National Research Council Guide. It has the authority to suspend or terminate Public Health Service support for research involving animals, including funds from the National Institutes of Health.
Since 1989, animal care at UC Berkeley has been centralized in the Office of Laboratory Animal Care (OLAC), which is directed by a senior veterinarian who is board-certified by the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine. She and the three other campus veterinarians are licensed by the State of California and are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to assure the best care for the animals.
In addition to these attending veterinarians, four fully-trained OLAC animal health technicians provide seven-day-a-week coverage for nursing care to campus animals. There also are more than 45 laboratory animal technicians who each day provide husbandry, feeding and care for all campus animals. Technicians receive ongoing training and opportunities for professional development.
The OLAC oversees about 40,000 animals on an average day. Fifty percent are mice and 40 percent are cold-blooded animals, such as amphibians, fish and reptiles. Nine percent are other rodents — rats, hamsters, guinea pigs and wild rodents — while the remaining 1 percent is comprised of rabbits, cats, non-human primates, coyotes, hyenas, birds and invertebrates, such as sea slugs.
In addition to the OLAC, UC Berkeley has an Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) that reviews all proposed uses of animals in research and teaching. Only those projects approved by the ACUC may go forward. The 14-member oversight committee is mandated by federal Animal Welfare Act Regulations and Public Health Service policy. The committee consists of faculty members who use animals in research, faculty members who do not use animals, members of the general public, a veterinary specialist in laboratory animal medicine, graduate students in the biological sciences and an animal technician. Faculty members who wish to use animals must submit an extensive written protocol to the ACUC that provides a rationale for the use of animals, justifies the number and species of animals they plan to use, and describes in detail the steps that will be taken to prevent or minimize any possible animal pain or distress. The ACUC has the power to reject any proposed use of animals, or to stop an ongoing project, if it believes that all applicable animal welfare standards are not being met.
The ACUC is also
responsible for evaluating UC Berkeley's overall program for animal care
and use. It inspects the campus’s centralized animal facilities and
all animal study areas at least twice yearly, investigates specific complaints
about animal welfare and recommends institutional animal care and use policies.