valuable for their oversight and support of animal care and use. Educators and trainers can use the Guide as a document to assess both the scope and adequacy of training programs supported by the institution. Accreditation bodies will find the Guide useful for evaluating many areas of animal care and use programs not subject to strict engineering standards (see definition below). Finally, members of the public should feel assured that adherence to the Guide will ensure humane care and use of laboratory animals.

Readers are reminded that the Guide is used by a diverse group of national and international institutions and organizations, many of which are covered by neither the Animal Welfare Act nor the PHS Policy. The Guide uses some terminology that is both defined by US statute and denotes a general concept (e.g., “attending veterinarian,” “adequate veterinary care,” and “institutional official”). Even if these terms are not consistent with those used by non-US institutions, the underlying principles can still be applied. In all instances where Guide recommendations are different from applicable legal or policy requirements, the higher standard should apply.


The decision to use animals in research requires critical thought, judgment, and analysis. Using animals in research is a privilege granted by society to the research community with the expectation that such use will provide either significant new knowledge or lead to improvement in human and/or animal well-being (McCarthy 1999; Perry 2007). It is a trust that mandates responsible and humane care and use of these animals. The Guide endorses the responsibilities of investigators as stated in the U.S. Government Principles for Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research, and Training (IRAC 1985; see Appendix B). These principles direct the research community to accept responsibility for the care and use of animals during all phases of the research effort. Other government agencies and professional organizations have published similar principles (NASA 2008; NCB 2005; NIH 2006, 2007; for additional references see Appendix A). Ethical considerations discussed here and in other sections of the Guide should serve as a starting point; readers are encouraged to go beyond these provisions. In certain situations, special considerations will arise during protocol review and planning; several of these situations are discussed in more detail in Chapter 2.


The Three Rs represent a practical method for implementation of the principles described above. In 1959, W.M.S. Russell and R.L. Burch published a practical strategy of replacement, refinement, and reduction—referred to as the Three Rs—for researchers to apply when considering experimental

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement