The PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals requires that Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) determine that the methods of euthanasia used will be consistent with the recommendations of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Panel on Euthanasia, unless a deviation is justified for scientific reasons in writing by the investigator. In addition, USDA Animal Care Policy #3 issued January 14, 2000 also requires that methods of euthanasia be consistent with the most current report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia unless a deviation is justified for scientific reasons.
The 2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association on March 1, 2001 (Vol. 281, No.5) and is available on the Chancellor’s Animal Research Committee (ARC) website (https://rsawa.research.ucla.edu/arc).
Recommendations regarding physical methods of euthanasia now state that “equipment used to perform decapitation should be maintained in good working order and serviced on a regular basis to ensure sharpness of blades.” Thus, prior to issuing approval for protocols listing decapitation as the method of euthanasia, the ARC now requires the following: 1) after each use, the unit should be wiped clean of any biological fluids to prevent buildup of potential corrosion; 2) after cleaning, a few drops of light machine oil (3 in 1) should be applied to blade surfaces and blade channels and the blades run together several times to spread the oil evenly over all moving surfaces. Blades should be replaced regularly depending upon frequency of use.
Additionally, the administration of carbon dioxide is acceptable for appropriate species, however, “Compressed CO2 gas in cylinders is the only recommended source of carbon dioxide because the inflow to the chamber can be regulated precisely. Carbon dioxide generated by other methods such as from dry ice, fire extinguishers, or chemical means is unacceptable.” Please note that the 2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia provides additional information regarding the administration of carbon dioxide and investigators using carbon dioxide either as a method of euthanasia OR anesthesia are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the recommendations provided in the Report.
If you currently use dry ice as a method to deliver carbon dioxide, please contact the vivarium manager to determine the location of compressed CO2 gas in cylinders in your area.