Non-research animals at Accredited Animal Research Establishments
Animal Research Review Panel Policy 4
Revised 4th August 2010
Under the Animal Research Act the responsibilities of an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) of an Accredited Animal Research Establishment do not extend to overseeing the care and management of the establishment’s animals that are not used in animal research. Such animals may include companion animals (pets), commercial livestock, working dogs and horses. However, AECs have expertise in the care and management of animals and should be seen as a valuable resource to advise on the care and management of non-research animals at accredited establishments.
Non-research animals at Accredited Animal Research Establishments are covered by the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979. The head of an Accredited Animal Research Establishment has responsibility for the care of non-research animals at the establishment. It may be appropriate for the head to use the AEC as an occasional or permanent advisory body on the care and management of non-research animals and on the development of standards and policies relating to such care and management. There are recognised minimum standards for the care and management of many species which are readily available - see Animal Welfare, Industry and Investment NSW. Apart from strict legal compliance (avoiding cruelty), there is a general community expectation that non-research animals will be treated according to such recognised standards. As an expert body, the AEC is in an ideal position to interpret existing standards, to develop new standards and to provide advice on appropriate policies for non-research animals at the establishment.
Issues related to the care and management of non-research animals may be brought to the attention of the AEC through a variety of routes. For example, a research proposal involving commercial livestock may focus the AEC's attention on the establishment's normal standard of husbandry for this species, or the AEC may receive a complaint from a member of staff or the general public about the management of non-research animals. It is reasonable for the AEC to investigate such matters and to provide comment to the head of the establishment.
The head of an establishment, by ignoring the recommendations of the AEC or by preventing the AEC from commenting on the care and management of non-research animals, would be open to criticism if the standard of care were challenged under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, or in the public arena.