Monitoring animals

Monitoring obligations

Under NSW legislation, scientists have a legal obligation to ensure that “adequate records are kept on the acquisition, breeding, health, care, housing, use and disposal of animals.” In short, all animals need to be adequately monitored as was described and approved by the AEC.

Apart from its scientific role in data collection, record-keeping should be viewed as a valuable monitoring tool. Good records should provide data that can, if necessary, draw attention to problems such as disease, poor fertility in breeding colonies, production of unwanted animals, unexpected reactions to experimental procedures or other factors that can impact on animal welfare and the reliability of research data.

Good record keeping also plays a valuable communication role since it should be able to demonstrate that animals are only being used in a manner that has been approved by an Animal Ethics Committee. Careful attention to animal records will also assist researchers in the collection of data for statutory reporting of animal use.

Monitoring checklists

Monitoring sheets are a mandatory element of any animal ethics application and should enable the identification of all animals, in terms of the procedures they have undergone, when these occurred, and the condition of the animal. A good checklist will:

  • prevent unintentional reuse of animals;
  • maintain sufficient rest periods;
  • establish signs of discomfort, distress and deterioration in animals;
  • enable the application of appropriate criteria for euthanasia; and
  • inform any critical investigation into the causes of unexpected adverse incidents.

Monitoring sheets must be located in the Animal Facility. Those individuals named on the application are responsible for day to day monitoring of the animals will maintain these sheets. While template sheets are available, these must be adapted to the specifics of individual projects. Too frequently AECs receive non-customised template sheets which are not fit for purpose. The Animal Welfare Manager or Laboratory Animal Services can advise on any issue relating to monitoring arrangements.

Templates

A set of model record sheets for the monitoring of mice during the establishment of a new genetically modified strain.