Purchase of rodents is limited to specific pathogen free (SPF) sources to maintain virus antibody free (VAF) colonies. The animal facility maintains a list of approved animal vendors. VAF rodents with accompanied detailed health screens are added to the colony. Scientists wishing to receive rodents from non-commercial colonies (e.g., transgenic, knock-out) must obtain a current animal health report from the source institution and submit it along with the animal order form. Animals must be free from all pathogens that would potentially threaten the health of the NYU colony. This determination is made by the Director of OVR and if accepted, these animals will be subsequently quarantined for a minimum of 3 weeks. Scientists may not come in contact with any animals in quarantine.
Animal Purchase Requests
The purchase of all research animals is coordinated by the OVR central office. This ensures regulatory compliance, availability of space, and maintenance of existing animal colony health. Animal purchase requests are to be submitted to the animal facility office (blank forms are available) at least 14 days in advance of the desired delivery date. The requests should be completely filled out and signed by the Principal Investigator; the project title and protocol number assigned by the UAWC must appear on all requests. Only requests with currently approved UAWC protocol numbers will be accepted. An OVR technician will be able to advise on vendors and terms of delivery. To order species other than rodents and rabbits, contact the OVR Manager directly.
No animals may be kept outside the animal facility for more than 12 hours. Only simple injections or examination procedures can be performed in animal facility housing rooms. Procedure rooms are available within each animal facility.
Animal Cage Assignments
Upon arrival, OVR animal technicians will house animals in appropriate holding rooms. Investigators may find the location of their animals within the facility by checking cage animal identification cards. The I.D. cards are also medical records for rodents and rabbits. Higher phylogenetic species have individual charts. Cage I.D. cards contain the investigator's name, UAWC approved protocol number, species, unique animal ID number, vendor source, arrival date, and a running log of all activities and procedures performed on the animals housed in the designated cage. These activities and procedures must be listed by date and title (i.e., 5/20/02 - blood collection 0.5mls). All procedures must be in accordance with those stated in the protocol designated on the cage card. Any deviation from use of animals as identified in the approved protocol will be grounds for termination of the project and removal of the animal. Alterations in animal use can be made through a protocol amendment submitted to and approved by the UAWC.
Animal Health Program
Animal technicians will check the health status of all animals on a daily basis 365 days of the year. When indicated by monitoring schedules in UAWC approved protocols, investigators and research technicians are also responsible for checking the animals health status and for reporting any animals showing signs of illness to the OVR animal technician immediately. The OVR technician will place a "red flag" card on the cage and will notify the veterinarian. OVR maintains individual records for all animals. A sentinel program, conducted quarterly, is implemented for rodent species. The sentinels are examined for ecto- or endo-parasites and for seroconversion to a panel of selected viruses. Microbiology panels are evaluated when warranted in animals with clinical disease.
When an animal is removed from the housing facility for any reason, its animal identification cage card must accompany the cage at all times. Upon return of the animal and the cage to the facility, the cage card must be present; no other form of identification will be accepted. When an animal is euthanized by the research staff, its cage card must be marked accordingly and submitted to the facility office. If a scientist is granted UAWC approval to transfer an animal to a different owner, an animal transfer form must be completed and submitted to the OVR office. OVR staff will implement the transfer and will create a new cage card.
When an animal's use has ended, it must be humanely euthanized in accordance with guidelines established by the Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia in the manner indicated in the UAWC approved protocol. Requests for OVR assistance for animal euthanasia must be submitted in writing on technical service request forms to the facility office at least 2 days prior to the date needed. Technical request forms may be obtained from the facility office.
In general, it is the responsibility of the facility staff to provide for the daily routine care of all animals. When it is necessary to temporarily withhold food or water, the OVR staff must be notified in advance so that special instructions can be posted. Special care procedures are generally the responsibility of the researcher or the OVR staff may be requested by the researcher to perform technical services on a fee-for-service basis. Technical requests must be submitted in writing on an OVR "technical request" form at least one week in advance, the exception being requests for euthanasia which is to be submitted 2 days in advance.
Both the Animal Welfare Act and the Department of Health and Human Services have written, minimum "standards" for providing care before, during and after surgical procedures. A project that involves more than momentary or slight pain or distress must involve the veterinarian, in the planning stage! Once a research project has begun, all surgical techniques (rodent and non-rodent species) are monitored by the veterinarian at least once a year. Surgery on non-rodent USDA covered species cannot be independently conducted by the investigator until the veterinarian has observed and approved the surgical technique at its initiation. On-line training modules and personalized training or assistance is available throught OVR. A dedicated surgical facility is available through OVR for non-rodent species. Rodent surgery may be performed in a UAWC approved laboratory area. Aseptic surgical technique must be followed for all survival surgical procedures.
- Surgical Personnel
Surgical support personnel from the Office of Veterinary Resources (OVR) are available to assist research staff. The charge for this service is nominal when compared to the cost of hiring research support staff. The exact makeup of a particular surgical team is a decision made by the principle investigator in consultation with the attending veterinarian. The UAWC must approve the list of personnel before the research project may begin and investigators must notify the UAWC as new personnel are added to the project.
- What is meant by Major Surgery?
Any surgical intervention that penetrates and exposes a body cavity; any procedure that has the potential for inducing permanent anatomic (physical) or physiologic impairment and/or any procedure associated with orthopedics or extensive tissue dissection or transection.
Major survival surgery for warm-blooded "higher" vertebrate animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils or monkeys must be performed in dedicated facilities specifically designed, operated, and maintained for that purpose. Cold-blooded vertebrate and rodent surgeries may be performed aseptically in a clean, non-dedicated room or laboratory. Surgical procedures on wild animals, both major and minor may be performed in the field but aseptic principles must be followed. The UAWC determines the appropriate site for specific operative procedures.
- What is meant by Minor Surgery?
A minor surgical procedure is one that neither penetrates or exposes a body cavity, nor induces permanent impairment of physical or physiologic function. Examples are laparoscopy, superficial vascular cutdown, and percutaneous biopsy. A dedicated surgical facility is not required for such procedures, however, the surgical area should be clean and aseptic techniques must be observed. There is no prohibition against multiple minor survival procedures. Good professional judgment should be used to limit the number of minor surgical procedures performed on a single animal.
- Are multiple major survival surgeries permitted by animal welfare laws?
Use of one animal in multiple major survival surgeries is allowed only when such procedures are related components of a protocol; they must be scientifically justified in the protocol and approved by the UAWC. Cost savings is not an acceptable justification for multiple major survival surgeries on any animal. Determination that a procedure constitutes major surgery is usually made during the UAWC review process. However, development of "permanent physical or physiologic impairment" may not be recognized until after the procedure is performed. If such impairment develops after a surgery, that animal cannot be used for another recovery procedure. If the second major procedure is non-survival, this is not considered to be multiple major survival surgery.
All reports of problems such as sick animals, unsanitary or dangerous conditions, or any other irregularities in the facility should be reported to the OVR Manager and Veterinarian as soon as possible. Since these condition have the potential to disrupt research, the appropriate researchers are also notified by OVR technicians. An OVR contact sheet with emergency pager numbers are posted in each animal facility, security and engineering offices. For physical plant emergencies, all relevant building personnel are trained in procedures to be implemented in the event of a emergency in the facility. Praise or complaints about the general operation of the facility and requests for additional space or services should be directed to the OVR Manager or Director.