Overview of Federal Requirements & Professional Accreditation

The use of animals in research and the organization and operation of animal care committees is highly regulated through a number of Federal agencies.

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA or Act) and Regulations (AWA Regulations) empower the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to require certain standards for the humane care, use, and transportation of laboratory research animals. The AWA Regulations dictate administrative and institutional responsibilities, as well as specifications for the humane handling, care, treatment, and transportation of animals covered by the Act. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issues and enforces the regulations under authority of the Act.

Institutions receiving research funding through any agency under the Public Health Service (PHS) must adhere to PHS guidelines in the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals which are administered by the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW).

Detailed guidelines and standards for animal care are contained in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals: Eighth Edition (2011) published by the National Research Council. These standards are fully compatible with the Animal Welfare Act and the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia (2020) (pdf).

UNC Charlotte’s Animal Care and Use Program is one of more than 1000 programs at institutions worldwide that are accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC). AAALAC is a voluntary accreditation organization that works with institutions and researchers to ensure the highest standards of animal care and use.