During their July 2014 visit to our campus, the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International site visit team noted that a large number of animals throughout the facilities were individually housed absent ARC approval or veterinary exemption for the arrangement. AAALAC cited this as a mandatory correction item in order for UCLA to maintain continuing accreditation.
The 8th edition of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals notes that social housing is the expectation for social species. Further, an AAALAC Position Statement reads: “Social housing will be considered by AAALAC International as the default method of housing unless otherwise justified based on social incompatibility resulting from inappropriate behavior, veterinary concerns regarding animal well-being, or scientific necessity approved by the IACUC (or comparable oversight body).”
In order to help the ARC address AAALAC’s concern, we ask that you review your approved protocols to ensure that any experimental need for single housing is described in #7B of the Animal Care section of your research protocol. Similarly, any logistical need for single housing should be detailed under #3 in the Breeding Colony section of your BC protocol.
Requests for single housing should describe the arrangement, why it is necessary, and the maximum duration animals will be individually housed. For breeding protocols, single housing may be required for the following reasons: females separated for copulatory plug checks, males resting between matings, pregnant mice in a trio breeding setting being separated to another cage to avoid overcrowding.
The AAALAC Position Statement continues: “In the absence of other animals, additional enrichment should be offered, such as safe and positive interaction with the animal care staff, as appropriate to the species of concern; periodic release into larger enclosures; supplemental enrichment items; and/or the addition of a companion animal in the room or housing area.” As such, the protocol should also address what additional enrichment will be provided during the period of single housing, or scientific justification for withholding such enrichment provided.
Please contact OARO if you have any questions about social housing.