The Rules We Live By

Animal Welfare Act (AWA)

  • originally passed in 1966, with further amendments in 1970, 1976, 1985, and 1990
  • regulatory authority delegated to the Secretary of the USDA, implemented by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and enforced by the Regulatory Enforcement and Animal Care Division (REAC)
  • species covered—warm-blooded vertebrate animals used for research with the following exceptions: farm animals used in food and fiber research, birds, rats of the genus Rattus, and mice of the genus Mus, bred for use in research
  • sets standards for animal transportation, husbandry practices, record-keeping, animal acquisition, animal identification, environmental enrichment, exercise requirements
  • requires research institutions to submit to unannounced inspections by USDA Veterinary Medical Officers (VMOs) and to file annual reports listing the species and numbers of animals used in research
  • mandates the formation of an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) for each research institution, which reviews and approves all proposed uses of animals in research
  • requires the IACUC to review and investigate complaints and reports of noncompliance involving the care and use of animals at the research facility ("whistle-blower")
  • copies of the AWA, and its associated regulations promulgated by USDA, are available online or hard copies are available in the RARC office

Health Research Extension Act

  • passed in 1985, written to protect vertebrate animals used in research funded by the Public Health Service (PHS) and now used by most federal granting agencies and many private funding agencies
  • full text is available online
  • regulatory authority is delegated to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), formerly known as the Office for the Prevention of Research Risk (OPRR)
  • oversight is provided by the IACUC, which in turn is responsible to the Institutional Official (the IO), who has the authority to sign the institution's assurance that the requirements of PHS Policy will be met. The assurance is filed with OLAW
  • species covered—all vertebrate animals (including rats, mice, and birds)
  • PHS policy for animal care and use is described in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (usually referred to as the Guide). The entire text of the PHS Policy can be found online

Wildlife Research

  • a multitude of state and federal regulations apply to the use of wildlife in research, both in the laboratory and in the field
    • USDA
    • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
    • U.S. Department of the Interior
  • researcher is responsible for the acquisition and updates of the appropriate permits for use of wildlife in research. Sometimes these take a long time to get, so advance planning is essential


  • Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals
    • The Guide establishes performance and engineering standards for the components of animal programs overseen by IACUCs. It is used as the standard by which AAALAC International evaluates animal programs and is considered the standard of care by OLAW
  • Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)
    • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) postings
    • ether (and other volatile anesthetics) must be used under a fume hood
  • Good Laboratory Practices (GLP)—if doing research to license chemicals or drugs under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
    • sometimes necessary if work is supported by industry
    • stringent and complex, with LOTS of record-keeping involved
    • not very common at UW-Madison, since these types of studies are not usually considered "basic science"