The veterinary care program is the responsibility of the attending veterinarian (AV), who is certified or has training or experience in laboratory animal science and medicine or is otherwise qualified in the care of the species being used. Some aspects of the veterinary care program can be conducted by persons other than a veterinarian, but a mechanism for direct and frequent communication should be established to ensure that timely and accurate information is conveyed to the responsible veterinarian about issues associated with animal health, behavior, and well-being, and that appropriate treatment or euthanasia is administered. The AV should provide guidance to investigators and all personnel involved in the care and use of animals to ensure appropriate husbandry, handling, medical treatment, immobilization, sedation, analgesia, anesthesia, and euthanasia. In addition, the AV should provide guidance and oversight to surgery programs and perioperative care involving animals.
All animals must be acquired lawfully, and the receiving institution should ensure that all procedures involving animal procurement are conducted in a lawful manner. Before procuring animals, the principal investigator should confirm that there are sufficient facilities and expertise to house and manage the species being acquired. Procurement of animals should be linked to the prior approval of animal use and number by the IACUC (see Chapter 2, Protocol Review). If dogs and cats are obtained from random sources, such as shelters or pounds, the animals should be inspected for tattoos or identification devices such as subcutaneous transponders (NRC 2009b); such identification might indicate that an animal was a pet, and if so, ownership should be verified. Attention should also be given to the population status of the species under consideration; the threatened or endangered status of species is updated annually by the Fish and Wildlife Service (DOI 2007). Appropriate records and other forms of documentation should be maintained for animals acquired by an institution for its investigators.
Potential vendors should be evaluated for the quality of animals they supply. As a rule, vendors of purpose-bred animals (e.g., USDA Class A dealers) regularly provide information that describes the genetic and pathogen status of their colonies or individual animals and relevant clinical history (e.g., vaccination status and anthelminthic administration). The use of purpose-bred and preconditioned animals is therefore preferable when consistent with the research, teaching, and testing objectives. In general, animals used for scientific purposes should not be obtained from pet stores or pet distributors due to the unknown or uncontrolled background of animals