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Assessing animal caretakers

Meeting identifies difficulties and successes in following US government rules for labs

Hal Cohen(hcohen@the-scientist.com)

Caretakers of lab animals are still struggling to meet complex federal guidelines, said members of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC) at the group's conference in Washington, D.C. this week. Membership in the voluntary accreditation organization continues to grow, but each year more than a quarter of members fail to meet the federal standards on first inspection, largely due to budget constraints or merely confusion.

"Even I still get confounded when I pick up the manual of regulations," said J.G. Collins, professor of anesthesiology at Yale University and chairman of Yale's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).

According to AAALAC, 27% of member labs are found to have protocol violations during the organization's regular accreditation inspections. The most frequent violations involve insufficient evaluation of pain and distress in laboratory animals, inadequate justification for withholding analgesia, and flaws in physical plant or monitoring of...

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