This Policy delineates the responsibilities and obligations of the Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine (DLAM) and Investigators concerning sick or injured animals.

All principal investigators (PIs) and lab members are required to report instances of sick or injured animals, including instances of post-operative complications, to a DLAM veterinarian or DLAM animal health technician immediately[1]. This applies to animals housed in investigator-maintained housing rooms (i.e., study areas), as well as in centralized facilities. It is not necessary to report instances of sick or injured animals if they have already been euthanized according to the criteria for premature euthanasia listed in the associated ARC-approved protocol.
Note: Investigators may not initiate treatment of a sick or injured animal unless the treatment has been specifically described for an expected complication in an approved protocol or has been authorized by DLAM veterinary staff.

Upon finding a sick or injured animal, DLAM staff may mark the cage[2] by placing a notification tag or post-it note next to the cage card and notifying the investigator's lab as soon as feasible thereafter. This notification will typically be done via email, by text/chat, or a telephone call may be made in urgent situations. Notifications are sent seven (7) days a week, including weekends and holidays, and will contain a summary description of the animal's condition as well as a recommendation for either treatment or euthanasia. At minimum, DLAM staff will notify the contact named on the cage card and the PI of the protocol. It is the responsibility of the laboratory to ensure that contact name(s) and information are updated both on the cage card and in RATS.

At the discretion of the veterinarian, DLAM may euthanize an animal found to be moribund or in marked pain or distress. In such cases, and so long as animal welfare is not further compromised, DLAM may contact the research lab prior to euthanasia by calling the contact person designated on the cage card at the listed telephone number.

Upon receiving notification of a sick or injured animal, the PI must ensure that one of the following actions is performed:

  1. The PI's lab will start treatment prescribed by the veterinarian within the time frame stated in the notification, and record, date, list name of treatment, and initial the Treatment Card or medical record (if applicable), or
  2. The PI's lab will euthanize the animal within the time frame stated in the notification, or
  3. The PI's lab will “reply all” to the email notification, communicate through the DLAM on-line health care system, or contact a DLAM veterinarian / veterinary staff within the time frame stated in the notification to determine an acceptable course of action.

If none of the above actions are completed within the time frame stated in the notification, DLAM may elect to treat or euthanize the affected animal based on its clinical condition or prognosis. The PI’s lab will be charged a fee to cover DLAM time and any supplies. In such cases, DLAM will send a follow-up communication to the lab to document that the animal was treated or euthanized due to no response and no action from the lab.

The PI's lab is responsible for carrying out all treatments as prescribed by the veterinarian unless alternate arrangements are made with DLAM (see point 3 above). Animals not treated as prescribed may be euthanized at the discretion of the veterinarian.

The ARC recognizes the importance of these animals to your research as well as our collective obligation to provide them with the best care possible. For humane and legal reasons, all animals must be treated or euthanized once a clinical problem requiring treatment has been reported.

[1] Refer to the ARC Policy Reporting Adverse Events for examples of and information about the process for reporting adverse events.
[2] Notification tags are not used for some species for which this method of communication is not practical; however, in all cases, an email will be sent.

Approved 6/9/03; Revised 6/13/05, 9/11/06, 1/12/09, 9/12/11, 8/8/16, 5/8/23, 6/12/23