Animals Used in Science
Understanding Animal Use
Who Oversees Animal Use in Canadian Science?
Contrary to most other countries, Canada does not have a national regulatory framework enforcing its guidelines, policies, and processes for the use and care of animals in science. Rather, the CCAC both develops and maintains high standards of ethical animal care and use and oversees their implementation by assessing institutions working with animals for scientific purposes and providing certification to those that meet these high standards.
The CCAC does this by working with a vast and diverse community of volunteer experts including animal health professionals, animal care committee members, researchers, educators, and community members.
Animal Health Professionals
In each CCAC-certified institution, veterinarians and animal health technicians work alongside researchers and educators, attending to the animals daily. These individuals are dedicated to ensuring that the animals are properly cared for, fed, housed, and are well monitored.
Animal Care Committee Members
Each CCAC-certified institution has at least one local animal care committee responsible for overseeing all aspects of ethical animal care and use at the institution. They work with those involved in animal-based science (including animal care personnel, graduate students, institutional administration, postdoctoral fellows, representatives from the local community, and researchers) to ensure the ethical treatment of the animals.
They must also ensure that every reasonable safeguard is in place to ensure animal welfare and must act as a strong and visible advocate for the ethical care of the animals under their protection.
Researchers and Educators
Individuals studying animals for scientific purposes can be wildlife researchers (e.g., biologists, conservationists, zoologists), health researchers (e.g., biochemists, geneticists, physiologists), and clinician researchers (e.g., oncologists, cardiologists, immunologists, veterinarians).
Across the country, these individuals engage in animal-based studies in accordance with the standards and best practices set forth by the CCAC. They must be competent and adequately trained in relevant techniques, and are expected to understand the principles of ethical animal care and use.
Animal welfare is also a priority for researchers and educators. The physical and psychological well-being of animals is proven to support better quality data as it minimizes variables that could compromise the quality of the science being conducted. It is therefore in the interest of researchers to approach their subjects with respect, mindfully avoiding any unnecessary pain or distress.
Other Volunteer Experts
In addition to those listed above, thousands of volunteer experts contribute their knowledge and skills to the CCAC’s mission every year. Animal health technicians, members of the public, scientists, bioethicists, and veterinarians contribute to the development of guidelines and policies, advancing high standards of care for animals in Canadian science.
Teams of volunteer experts also visit certified institutions to ensure they comply with the CCAC’s standards. These teams include representatives from the local community, technicians, scientists, and veterinarians, all specialized in the types of animals held in a specific institution.
Dozens more dedicate their time to various other committees, task forces, and working groups to ensure that the CCAC reflects the views of Canadians and implements initiatives aimed at continually improving the care and ethical use of animals in science.