ASSOCIATION FOR ASSESSMENT AND ACCREDITATION OF LABORATORY ANIMAL CARE INTERNATIONALconnectionMembersof ARPAACWhere science and responsible animal care connect. 200510 11 12AAALAC’sag advisorycommitteeAgriculturalresearchprogramsand AAALACaccreditationAAALAC International’s “trends”data shows that while agriculturalresearch programs do face someunique challenges in earning AAALACaccreditation, those challenges maynot be as tough as you think—nor anytougher than those faced by researchprograms in laboratory settings.In this article, based on a previouspresentation, AAALAC experts andrepresentatives from agriculturalresearch institutions share theirthoughts on the challenges andbenefits of pursuing AAALACaccreditation.continued next page...Myths andmisperceptions
20052Institutions that conduct agricultural research may bereluctant to pursue AAALAC accreditation. This maybe due to a perception in the field that accreditationis perhaps more difficult for agricultural and veterinaryprograms.“It’s true that agricultural programs do have someunique elements that may influence their decision onwhether or not to seek accreditation, including theirpredilection toward decentralized management,” saysJoseph D. Thulin, D.V.M., M.S., member of AAALAC’sCouncil on Accreditation.But what stops many from pursuing accreditationis the belief that their agricultural facilities—barns,sheds, fence lines and the like—won’t meet AAALACstandards. Others simply don’t see how their programwill benefit.What makes agriculturalinstitutions different?Many agricultural research programs are part of“land grant institutions,” colleges and universitiesdesignated by Congress and state legislatures toreceive federal support. In the United States, there are74 land grant institutions, but only 29 are AAALACaccredited. Among those that are accredited, only11 have “campus-wide” accreditation, meaning thatevery school or college within the institution that usesanimals in research, teaching or testing is accredited.The others have “university-limited” accreditation,meaning only certain components of the university areaccredited.Size and complexityMost institutions engaged in agricultural research arepart of these large, land grant universities. They mayhave more than one animal care and use program, morethan one IACUC (Institutional Animal Care and UseCommittee), and many, many layers of management.“Land grant universities are complex by nature, andoften have decentralized animal care programs foragriculture and biomedical research,” says AAALACCouncil member Dorcas P. O’Rourke. “They typicallyhave multiple funding sources, multiple lines ofauthority, and separate programs with overlappingresearch focus.”There are a number of different organizationalstructures among the agricultural programs thathave earned AAALAC accreditation. For example, theUniversity of Illinois has decentralized managementof its animal facilities, centralized oversight of allanimal research areas (including agriculture) throughthe institutional veterinarian’s office and the IACUC,centralized veterinary care for lab animals, decentralizedveterinary care (with institutional oversight) forfood and fiber animals, and a single IACUC. Theyhave “campus-wide” AAALAC accreditation, that includesagricultural food and fiber animals.Clemson University also has a large agriculturalcomponent, with all veterinary care and oversight providedby the institutional veterinarian’s office, a single IACUC,and a single, campus-wide AAALAC accreditation. Otherinstitutions have different combinations of oversight, withtheir agricultural component accredited separately or notat all.“There are many ways to design a successful, accreditedprogram, whether you are part of a centralized ordecentralized institution,” says Joy A. Mench, D.Phil., amember of AAALAC’s Council on Accreditation.Although organizational complexity can be a challenge inthe process of applying for and earning accreditation, it’snot insurmountable. And it’s one faced by both agriculturaland biomedical research programs.So aside from size and complexity, what makesaccreditation appear more daunting for agriculturalprograms? The answer may be partly due to otherissues unique to agricultural programs, and partly due toperception—or misperceptions.Challenges in earningaccreditationUnclear lines of accountabilityThe complex lines of accountability and authority commonin many agricultural programs sometimes result in adisconnect among the key players in an animal care anduse program. This is a problem because the standards forearning accreditation require clear and comprehensiveoversight of the animal care and use program as outlined inthe Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, NRC1996 (the Guide).“One of the issues we grapple with at the University ofIllinois is that the lines of reporting between the providerof clinical vet services and the office of the ‘institutionalveterinarian’ are not defined,” says Neal R. Merchen, Ph.D.,Professor and Interim Head of the Department of AnimalSciences at the University of Illinois.Merchen says these complex lines of accountability andauthority make it tough to build consensus around issuesand procedures. He adds that, “In a large institution thereare enough issues that come up that building collaborationbecomes an important part of the process of workingtoward accreditation—and it can be a major obstacle toovercome.”Mistrust of any type of centralizedoversight, including accreditationMerchen adds that another characteristic of agriculturalinstitutions is the extensive involvement of faculty inmanaging and overseeing agricultural programs. “Thiscreates special challenges because faculty are unique,”
Merchen says. “Many have a ‘cultural resistance’ tocentralized oversight.”In some cases, this aversion leads to a less-than-positiveattitude toward the value of AAALAC accreditation.Merchen believes that there are some legitimate issuescontributing to a lack of enthusiasm and limited supportfor accreditation at some institutions. At the sametime, he would like to see institutions do a better job ofincorporating agricultural components into their largeranimal care and use program, including making it a part oftheir accreditation.“I support the notion that the agricultural programshould be a mainstream element of the institutional animalprogram,” Merchen says. “The people that are engagedin the oversight of the agricultural program should behelping to provide leadership to the institutional animalcare program.” This, he feels, requires creating a strongrelationship between key institutional entities—the IACUC,the institutional veterinarian, the institutional official, andthe agricultural animal program.CostFor most institutions, the fees required to apply for andmaintain accreditation are relatively modest. It’s the stafftime needed to prepare for the process that can make thereal cost of accreditation more significant, particularly atvery large institutions.“The University of Illinois is a large program. We have12,000 to 14,000 animals in our facilities every day. Abouthalf are poultry, but we also have lots of beef and dairycattle and pigs. We have 10 livestock research and teachingunits, two out-of-state locations about 150- 200 miles fromcampus, 50 employees associated with these programsincluding academic staff and animal caretakers, and 150buildings where animals are housed,” Merchen explains.“So it took four AAALAC site visitors four days to gothrough our agricultural facilities and the laboratory animalfacilities. This means there are real costs associatedwith this process. We’re not concerned with thefees that go to AAALAC—those are relativelyinsignificant. What I mean by cost are the humanresources, and prep time,” Merchen says. “Wehad one person work full time for six months onpreparing for our accreditation.”It’s important to note that the commitment ofstaff time needed to prepare for accreditationvaries greatly from program to program. And oncea program is accredited, preparation time forsubsequent site visits is likely to be significantly less.However preparation time is definitely a factor thatneeds to be planned for and incorporated into staffschedules.Misperceptions aboutaccreditation andagricultural programsAside from the very real challenges outlinedabove, there are also misperceptions that arekeeping agricultural programs from applying foraccreditation.“My farm facilities aren’t accreditable”One of the biggest misperceptions aboutaccreditation is the notion that the agriculturalresearch setting must meet the exact same standardsfor the “physical plant” as biomedical laboratories.While it’s true that all programs must meet theprinciples outlined in the first three chapters ofthe Guide, AAALAC takes a basic, common senseapproach when it comes to conducting site visits offarm areas.“What we’re looking for is that the housing andcare for farmanimals meetthe standardsthat prevailtoday on a highquality,wellmanagedfarm,”says KathrynA. Bayne, M.S.,Ph.D., D.V.M.,AssociateDirector ofAAALACInternational.“We definitelyuse aperformanceWhat stops many from pursuing accreditation isthe belief that their agricultural facilities—barns,sheds, fence lines and the like—won’t meetAAALAC standards.approach.”John J.McGlone, aprofessor in theDepartment ofAnimal Scienceaaalac connection3
20054AAALAC Farm AnimalPosition StatementAAALAC International uses the current editionof the Guide for the Care and Use of LaboratoryAnimals (NRC 1996) as its primary standard forevaluating animal care facilities and programs.The full range of programmatic criteria outlined inSections I-III of the Guide are entirely applicableto farm animals and, in accredited facilities, theuse of farm animals in research should be subjectto the same general ethical considerations asthe use of other animals in research. However,uses of farm animals are often separated intobiomedical and agricultural, and different criteriafor evaluating standards of housing and care foranimals of the same species may be appropriate.Decisions on categorizing research uses of farmanimals and defining standards for their care anduse should be based on user goals, protocols,and concern for animal well-being and shouldbe made by the Institutional Animal Care andUse Committee. For animals in an agriculturalsetting, AAALAC International takes the positionthat, in accredited facilities, the housing andcare for farm animals should meet the standardsthat prevail on a high quality, well managed farm.The Guide for the Care and Use of AgriculturalAnimals in Agricultural Research and Teaching (FASS1999) is recognized by AAALAC International asa reference resource for individual farm animalspecies. Regardless of an investigator’s researchobjectives or funding source, institutions areexpected to provide oversight of all researchanimals and ensure that their pain and distress isminimized.at Texas Tech University and former member of AAALAC’sCouncil on Accreditation, concurs.“Really, if you are thinking about becoming AAALACaccredited and you are concerned about your facilities, asimple sealing of the floors, painting the walls, fixing thefences, and $10 temperature recorders can solve mostof the problems in this category—despite what peopleimagine, most facilities are relatively easy to fix,” McGlonesays.“Agricultural research programs don’tbenefit from AAALAC accreditation”Among agricultural professionals, the AAALAC process andthe potential value of accreditation are often not clearlycommunicated.“AAALAC is sometimes not well understood by peopleinvolved in agricultural animal programs,” Merchen says.“They see it as a ‘club’ or a regulatory body. This is whymany agricultural programs have limited enthusiasm foraccreditation.”This is something AAALAC is working to rectify. “Wehave formed an advisory body that will help us identifyareas of concern or misunderstanding so that we canmore effectively communicate with agricultural researchprofessionals,” says John G. Miller, D.V.M., AAALAC’sExecutive Director. “We truly believe these programs canbenefit from accreditation, and we want to do a better jobof explaining why and how.”Merchen supports this idea. “AAALAC needs to clarifythe role that AAALAC plays for agricultural animalprofessionals.”So how do agriculturalprograms benefit fromaccreditation?Merchen feels that some of the arguments for agriculturalprograms to pursue accreditation are more compelling thanothers.“I do believe that accreditation is a symbol of quality,”Merchen says. “There is real value attached to the externalvalidation of the quality and compliance of our programswith the standards that are used in the AAALAC process.This validation enhances the credibility of agriculturalanimal programs as a primary component of the overallanimal care program within an institution.”“I also believe that the accountability that isdemonstrated by a commitment to accreditation isimportant,” Merchen adds.He explains that because all institutions have a “socialcontract” with the public, AAALAC also serves as one meansof establishing accountability—it shows a commitment tothe humane and ethical care and use of animals.“Going through the accreditation process reminds us ofthe concerns of the public, and increases the sensitivity of
staff to those concerns,” Merchen says.Along with demonstrating quality and accountability,Merchen also notes that accreditation gives agriculturalprograms a chance to “thoughtfully re-evaluate practices.”He says record keeping at his institution greatly improvedas a result of going through the AAALAC process,particularly with regard to medical records.“On the opportunities side, the ‘seal of quality andaccountability’ achieved through accreditation has realvalue,” Merchen says. “But self assessment is the singlebest reason for an agricultural program to be AAALACaccredited. Going through it helped us make improvementsto our processes. I also believe that going through AAALACaccreditation caused a noticeable upturn in the sense ofprofessionalism and pride among our caretaking staff.”What are the standards?AAALAC International uses two primary resources inevaluating agricultural animal care and use programs:the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals inAgricultural Research and Teaching, FASS 1999 (Ag Guide),and the principles of the first three chapters of the ILARGuide that are applicable to agricultural animals. (For moredetail, see the sidebar on opposite page, “AAALAC FarmAnimal Position Statement.”)“AAALAC wants to see that the housing and care for farmanimals meet the standards of a high-quality farm,” Baynesays. “Other than that, we review agricultural programs thesame way we review other animal care and use programs—we look at the components of the program articulated inthe Guide.”These program components include: InstitutionalPolicies including the occupational health and safetyprogram (OHSP), the IACUC, veterinary care andadministrative organization; Animal Environment, Housingand Management including animal space provisions,support service, sanitation practices, caging/housingsystems, and aseptic surgery, husbandry practices,and identification and record keeping, vermin control;Veterinary Care including preventive medicine, diseaseProgram deficiencies atland grant institutions65%20%7%8%Institutional PoliciesPhysical PlantAnimal ManagementVeterinary Carediagnosis, control, and treatment, surgical andpostsurgical care, anesthesia and analgesia, andeuthanasia; and issues related to the PhysicalPlant including HVAC, survival surgery support,facility maintenance, personnel safety concerns,general storage conditions, sanitation of facilities,illumination, emergency power, physical plantdesign, and security.What are the mostcommon deficiencies inagricultural programs?AAALAC International analyzed data fromJanuary 1993 through January 2002 collectedfrom institutional program reviews conductedby the Council on Accreditation. The goal wasto determine the deficiencies most commonlyfound in the agricultural programs the Councilevaluated during that timeframe. AAALAC lookedat “mandatory deficiencies,” items that must becorrected before accreditation is granted, as well as“suggestions for improvement.” Some interestingfacts were revealed:• More than half of the institutions evaluated—59percent—had no mandatory items for correction(i.e., they were granted “Full Accreditation” aftertheir site visit).• There was no significant correlation between thenumber of mandatory items or suggestions forimprovement identified, and whether the programwas “campus-wide” (a single accreditation forthe entire institution) or “university-limited”accredited (only one part of the institution isaccredited).The data showed that the challenges facing landgrant institutions are not much different than thosefaced by more traditional biomedical animal careand use programs. The top three deficiencies facedby all institutions are the same as those facing landgrant institutions, namely:1. IACUC issues2. OHSP issues3. HVAC concernsAnd while there were a number of suggestionsfor improvement related to the physical plant ofagricultural facilities, they were all things thatwere relatively easy to repair—such as barnmaintenance, or repairing rusted chutes or weatherdamagedwood.Policy issuesAs happens in biomedical research programs, issuesrelated to institutional policies were the mostcommon deficiencies found in programs at landgrant institutions. These issues included:aaalac connection5
20056• Insufficient institutional commitment. This includednot enough resources, or an unwillingness byadministrators to help the university make acommitment to animal care and use.• The Institutional Official (IO) was not empoweredto commit necessary resources to fix problems. Thisoccurs when the IO was not high enough in the chainof command to make things happen.• Unclear lines of authority and oversight for theprogram.• Inconsistent procedures and practices betweencentralized and satellite facilities.“Why do IACUC and policy issues come up moreoften than other concerns?” asks Christine M. Parks,D.V.M., Ph.D., Director of RARC for the University ofWisconsin-Madison, and former member of AAALAC’sCouncil on Accreditation. “Because institutions withagricultural programs typically have a more diffuseorganizational structure. So many issues can only beresolved by the IACUC—there is no other person orunit that can deal with the problem before it gets tothe committee. In many complex organizations, they arethe first legitimate arbiter.”For example, the veterinarian caring for theagricultural animals may be from another part of theinstitution, or part of another chain of command,and have no authority to make needed changes. So ifthere’s a problem, the IACUC is the only entity with theauthority to take corrective actions.“It’s critical to make sure authority matchesresponsibility,” says Parks. “Sometimes people aregiven responsibility, but not enough authority toenact change—the balance between these two is veryimportant, particularly in large, complex organizations.”Also important is active participation by the IACUC inthe oversight of farm units and remote sites.Merchen suggests ensuring that the agriculturalprogram is represented on the IACUC.“Often, people involved in agricultural programsare reluctant to provide leadership in institutionaloversight,” Merchen says. “Institutions with agriculturalcomponents should work to include agricultural animalprofessionals at the forefront of their overarchinganimal care programs.”Other policy issues cited involved protocol review. Foragricultural institutions, the IACUC needs to make surethat all animals are covered by a protocol, standardoperating procedures or other similar document that isreviewed by the IACUC—even those animals used aspart of a teaching herd or for breeding.OHSP considerationsOccupational health and safety program (OHSP)issues were the second most common deficiency area.The Ag Guide states, “An occupational health and safetyprogram must be established for individuals who workwith agricultural animals.” The requirements for an OHSPinclude:• Risk assessment and hazard identification• Medical surveillance• Training• Personnel hygiene• Personal protective equipment• Facilities• Procedures and monitoringBut what makes an OHSP program work well? Wendy J.Underwood, D.V.M., M.S., a member of AAALAC’s Councilon Accreditation, offers these guidelines:“You must have strong administrative support, and makesure adequate resources are available,” says Underwood.“You also need sound implementation strategies that areflexible enough to apply to an agricultural research program.You also need effective coordination, and a mechanism toinform people that the program exists.”The most common deficiency within OHSP is performingOHS findings atland grant institutions16%20%6% 3%20%35%Risk AssessmentProgrammaticStudy HazardsPPETrainingMedical Surveillancethe risk assessment, which, according to Underwood,should be the cornerstone of your OHSP. Deficiencies hereinclude not performing any type of risk assessment, lackof first aid kits, failure to identify hazardous materials ordisplay proper signage, and failure to identify potentialhealth risks such as Q fever.“When institutions fall down in this area, it’s often notbecause an OHSP doesn’t exist,” Underwood adds. “It’sthat the program lacks sufficient intensity and oversightappropriate for agricultural research programs.”She also notes the importance of assessing the riskof allergen exposure. “In large ag facilities, this often
doesn’t take place.In my personalexperience, we hadtwo individuals whohad worked withcattle for over 20years and suddenlydeveloped cattleallergies—soallergy assessmentis an importantconsideration.”It’s also importantto ensure thatappropriate policiesare in place toprotect employeesworking in anagricultural setting.Policies regardingentering confinedspaces such as silosor manure areas,lone operator policies for people working with large animals,implementing lock out/tag out procedures, and appropriaterequirements for personal protective equipment (PPE)should be in place.Underwood notes other OHS issues found at land grantinstitutions…• Not wearing boots, safety glasses or work clothes in barnareas.• No awareness of zoonoses, such as ringworm, crypto,erysipelas, or flue.• No tetanus immunization for employees.• Storage issues for gas, diesel, formalin, and kerosene.• Poor or no biohazard signage.• Lack of heavy equipment training.• Not having first aid kits readily accessible.• Not being aware of risks for physical injury and poorergonomics.While the OHSP is the same for both biomedical andagricultural programs, special consideration should be givento employees and personnel working in a farm environmentto make sure these issues are addressed.Managing agricultural animalsAAALAC’s data show that deficiencies in animalmanagement at land grant institutions are rare.“Routine husbandry and management issues do notgenerally pose significant challenges,” says Mench.The Guide says, “A good management program providesthe environment, housing and care that permit animals togrow, mature, reproduce and maintain good health; providesfor their well-being; and minimizes variations that can affectresearch results.”For the most part, institutions are succeeding inmeeting these standards. Mench does offer a fewtips pertinent to agricultural programs …Housing and enrichmentconsiderations• As in laboratory settings, be sure to provideopportunities for animals to express speciestypicalpostures, behaviors and activity.• Make sure there is social enrichment for socialspecies, perhaps through pair or group-housingor visual, olfactory and auditory contact.Check feed and water quality• Don’t hold feed for longer than therecommended storage times.• Check feed storage conditions to keep outvermin and other contaminants.• Review feeding conditions—for example, if pigsare fed on a floor, it can be a problem if the feedbecomes contaminated with urine and feces.• Check automatic water lines to minimize thechance of microbiological contamination.Sanitation issues• Make sure enclosure sanitation schedulesconform with the Guide or the Ag Guide asappropriate.• Check the effectiveness of sanitation proceduresthrough microbiological monitoring or otherappropriate methods.• Clean up and clear out cluttered and dirty rooms,particularly in support areas or areas whereaaalac connection7
20058procedures are performed. (This is the most commonsuggestion for improvement.)• Repair or replace rusted equipment.Other husbandry issuesVermin control—especially bird control—can be aproblem for farm locations, particularly in bulk feedstorage areas and open feed troughs. So an effectivevermin control program should be developed andmaintained.Also an issue for some agricultural programs isthe lack of a formal (or adequate) disaster plan.A plan should be in place and include appropriateemergency contacts, an “official responder”—typicallya veterinarian or colony manger—and the plan’sprocedures should be posted in an accessible location.“Most importantly,” Mench says, “be sure the plan takesinto account both people and animals.”Finally, Mench says to be sure the IACUC is overseeinghusbandry practices related to agricultural animals thatmay cause pain or distress. These include castration,dehorning, molting of birds that requires an extendedperiod of feed withdrawal, and other practices routinelydone without anesthesia. “If the procedure is likelyto cause pain or distress, it must be reviewed andapproved by the IACUC,” Mench says.Veterinary care issuesWhen it comes to veterinary care in agriculturalresearch, most deficiencies are in the design andimplementation of the overall veterinary care program.Problems in this area are often the result of insufficientoversight.“Poorly organized programs typically have problemswith implementation,” says AAALAC Council memberJoseph Thulin “Everyone involved in veterinary caremust be knowledgeable of institutional responsibilities.And we need to work hard to be cognizant of therelationships among the various standards and regulations,including the Guide, Ag Guide, Animal Welfare Regulationsand PHS Policy.”Thulin notes that AAALAC operates on the assumptionthat the first three chapters of the Guide apply acrossthe board, including farm settings. He also notes thatagricultural programs sometimes fail to establish clear linesof authority for veterinary care.“You need to know who is responsible for ensuring there’san overall program of veterinary care—you need to knowwho the ‘attending veterinarian’ is,” Thulin says. “This is notnecessarily the person you call when an animal gets sick.”The attending veterinarian (AV) is responsible for allactivities involving animals at the institution and (ideally)reports to the IO. The attending veterinarian should beappropriately involved in overseeing care for agriculturalanimals.“An institution may have more than one AV,” Thulinadds. “So the lines of accountability and responsibilitiesMandatory items for improvementin veterinary carePreventive Medicine61%23%13%3%OrganizationSurgical CareEuthanasiaPain Management0% (Pain Management)among the veterinarians need to be clearly delineated andcoordinated. For example, one AV might be responsible forbiomedical research animals, another for agricultural, and soon. AAALAC will evaluate the organization of oversight.”Communication is another area where problems may arisebetween researchers and the AV. This is especially truein agricultural settings when an investigator may also bea veterinarian and is providing (or not providing) care tohis or her own animals. Or, when a dairy manager initiatesmedical treatment without input from the veterinarian.“The most frequently cited deficiency involving veterinarycare in agricultural programs is inadequate notification ofthe veterinary staff about ill animals,” Thulin notes. As inlaboratory settings, agricultural animals should be observeddaily, and proper health treatment and disease preventionshould be provided.
Suggestions for improvementin veterinary carePreventive Medicine11%32%9% 1%47%Surgical CareEuthanasiaPain ManagementOrganization“The Ag Guide requires a written and implemented programfor disease prevention,” Thulin says. “These programsshould include biosecurity, surveillance, diagnosis,treatment, end point resolution, and have stringentrequirements for health and production record keeping.”Thulin suggests looking at veterinary care as a holisticprogram that includes preventive medicine. Along withpreventive medicine, the Guide also requires veterinarycare to include surveillance, diagnosis, treatment, controlof disease, management of protocol-associated disease,disability, or other sequelae, anesthesia and analgesia,surgery and post surgical care, assessment of animalwell-being, and euthanasia. These requirements applyto agricultural animal care and use as well as biomedicalsettings.When a farm is the facilitySome people believe that their farm facilities are not“accreditable.” But, as stated earlier, AAALAC expectsthe agricultural program facilities to be on a par witha high-quality, well-managed farm and to follow therecommendations of the Ag Guide.Former AAALAC Council member John J. McGlonedeveloped this list of things not to worry about prior toapplying for accreditation …What is NOT a major concern for mostagricultural institutions• A farm setting.• Outdated facilities. McGlone notes that walls can bepainted, floors sealed, and facilities well managed toensure a safe and comfortable environment.• Natural ventilation. The 10-15 air changes per hourthat are suggested in the Guide are not met in thesefacilities—and this is not a problem in the eyes ofAAALAC. In fact, McGlone adds, it’s often healthier forsome agricultural animals to have naturally ventilatedfacilities.• Non-controlled photoperiod (as in open barns). Thisis also not a problem for farm animals that are notphotosensitive. If you’re dealing with species thatare photosensitive, such as chickens, the onlyconsequence is that they won’t lay eggs duringcertain times of the year. McGlone adds thatbecause this is not a welfare problem, it’s reallynot of concern to AAALAC.• Lack of temperature control. This is alsonot a problem as long as the animals canfind a microenvironment that’s comfortable.Temperatures in these areas must be monitoredand regularly recorded.The big facility issuesThough it’s not necessary to have brand newfacilities to earn accreditation, existing facilitiesmust be in sound condition. In particular, McGlonenotes, flooring should be refurbished, resealed,or replaced as needed to provide safe, sanitizablesurfaces.“When the concrete is cracked and the floor isnot sealed, animals can become injured and thefloor can’t be properly sanitized,” McGlone says.He also suggests making simple improvements suchas checking for and fixing unsealed animal roomsurfaces and repairing damaged fencing.“It’s important to understand that agriculturalfacilities can be accredited for what they are—modern, well-managed farms,” McGlone says.“If it’s a hybrid between a farm and a laboratory,the surgery facility might be a little less thanwhat’s typical in a biomedical facility. And that’sacceptable if the setting is appropriate for thesurgery—something less invasive than what’s donein biomedical research. After all, that’s why weselected agricultural animals for domestication—they are adaptable in a wide variety ofenvironments.”The road ahead“AAALAC offers some great opportunities foragricultural programs,” Merchen says. “But I alsobelieve that institutions and AAALAC face someserious challenges in developing enthusiasmand commitment toward the accreditation ofagricultural animal programs.”AAALAC encourages agricultural researchprograms to consider the benefits of accreditation,and understand that earning it may not be asdifficult as they think. At the same time, AAALACwill be working to better communicate thosebenefits to a much wider audience of agriculturalresearch professionals in the months and yearsahead.These efforts will be guided by several agriculturalexperts who currently serve AAALAC: ExecutiveCommittee Member John J. McGlone, Ph.D.,Professor, Department of Animal Science, Texasaaalac connection9
200510Tech University; Council Member Joy A. Mench,D.Phil., Professor and Director for the Center forAnimal Welfare in the Department of Animal Science,University of California, Davis; Council member-electCarmen Parkhurst, Ph.D., Professor, Department ofPoultry Science, North Carolina State University, andrepresentatives from AAALAC Member Organizationsincluding the American Dairy Science Association,American Society of Animal Science, Federation ofAnimal Science Societies, National Association of StateUniversities and Land Grant Colleges, and the PoultryScience Association. •For questions or more information on applyingfor accreditation, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org call +301.231.5353.Tips to ensure a smootherjourney to accrediting youragricultural research program4Don’t assume that your farm facilities are not“accreditable” or that they must be brand new inorder to meet AAALAC standards.4Communicate the potential value of accreditationto everyone who will be involved in thepreparation—particularly faculty, but alsoadministrators, veterinarians, investigatorsand animal care staff—and make sure theyunderstand how the process works. (TheAAALAC offi ce has information that can helpyou with this. Handouts describing accreditationare also available on the AAALAC web site,www.aaalac.org.)4Make sure the OHSP adequately coversagricultural personnel.4Create clear lines of authority, and make surethose who are responsible for the agriculturalanimal care program have the authority to makenecessary changes and improvements. This isparticularly important if the agricultural researchcomponent is part of a decentralized animal careand use program.4Be sure the agricultural research component isrepresented on the IACUC. This helps developa strong institutional commitment to theagricultural animal care and use program, andensures it receives proper oversight.Membersof ARPAACThe AgriculturalResearch ProgramAccreditationAdvisory CommitteeJack H. Britt, Ph.D. (Chair)Vice President for AgricultureThe University of Tennessee, KnoxvilleDavid R. Ames, Ph.D.Professor, Animal SciencesColorado State UniversityJeffrey D. Armstrong, Ph.D.Dean and ProfessorCollege of Agriculture and Natural ResourcesMichigan State UniversityMichele M. (Smith) Bailey, D.V.M., M.R.C.V.S.Associate Vice Provost ResearchAnimal Resources and Laboratory Animal ServicesProfessor, Biomedical SciencesCollege of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell UniversityOscar J. Fletcher, D.V.M., Ph.D.Dean, College of Veterinary MedicineNorth Carolina State UniversityDavid E. Granstrom, D.V.M., Ph.DAssociate Institute DirectorAnimal and Natural Resources Institute, USDA ARS ANRIJohn J. McGlone, Ph.D.Professor & Director, Pork Industry InstituteDepartment of Animal and Food ScienceTexas Tech UniversityJoy A. Mench, Ph.D.Professor and Director, Center for Animal WelfareDepartment of Animal ScienceUniversity of California at DavisNeal R. Merchen, Ph.D.Professor and Head, Department of Animal SciencesUniversity of IllinoisJanice C. Swanson, Ph.D.Professor of Animal Sciences and IndustryDepartment of Animal Sciences and IndustryKansas State University
AAALAC forms agricultural advisory committeeAAALAC International (the Association for Assessmentand Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care),has appointed an advisory committee to helpAAALAC better serve the agricultural animal researchand teaching communities. The “Agricultural ResearchProgram Accreditation Advisory Committee” (ARPAAC)met and outlined a number of possible initiatives that willhelp AAALAC better communicate with agricultural animalresearch professionals, including new educational programstailored to meet their individual and institutional needs.“The ARPAAC is providing instrumental advice that willallow us to better recognize and address the issues facingour colleagues conducting agricultural animal research,”said John G. Miller, D.V.M., executive director of AAALACInternational. “It’s an outstanding group of advisors and weare extremely appreciative of their participation.”AAALAC has published a summary of the committee’srecommendations so that others may comment on themand provide additional input. Some highlights of thesummary include ...Benefits—why agricultural animal researchprograms should participate in the AAALACaccreditation programSome members of the advisory committee representinstitutions that already participate in the accreditationprogram. Here’s what those members say about the benefitsof AAALAC accreditation …• Accreditation promotes—and validates—high standardsfor research and animal care.• Accreditation provides public accountability• Accreditation offers an opportunity forin-depth program assessment• Accreditation can identify the need for—and facilitatethe acquisition of—additional resources• Accreditation provides a positive image among researchfundersKey issues and challengesfor agricultural animal research andteaching programsIn terms of participating in the accreditation program,agricultural animal research programs face several uniqueissues and challenges identified by the committee:• Cost of accreditation• Institutional structure and complex reporting that makesworking toward accreditation difficult• Investigator resistance to external oversight/controlMoving forward—action itemsBased on the feedback from the committee, AAALAChas developed the following action items thatwill lead to improvements and enhancements toAAALAC’s programs, services, and communicationsefforts, based on the specific needs and concerns ofthe agricultural animal research community. Theseaction items include:• Develop new education and mediation servicesAAALAC will look to develop new on-site educationalworkshops that institutions can request. Theworkshops will educate staff, investigators andadministrators on AAALAC standards and processes,and address specific issues and challenges facing theinstitution. AAALAC will also consider “mediationservices” in which key institutional representativescome together—including investigators,administrators, faculty and animal care staff—tomeet with an AAALAC representative who serves as amoderator, helping to bridge communication gaps andget all parties working toward mutually agreed uponanimal care and use goals.• Provide more data and benchmarks specificto agricultural animal research programsAAALAC will begin extracting more “best practices”data specific to agricultural animal research programsand provide trends data, benchmarking tools, “howto” articles, and success stories that agriculturalinstitutions can use to help improve their programs.• Make the AAALAC accreditation processmore agriculture-specificThis includes recruiting additional ad hoc Consultants(those who assist with site visits) who have expertisein agricultural animal science and administration; andconsidering changing the name of the organization toreflect the inclusion of agricultural animal research inthe accreditation program.• Clearly communicate the different approachesto accrediting laboratory vs. agricultural animalprogramsAAALAC will find additional and more effective waysto communicate the different approaches AAALACuses in accrediting laboratory and agricultural animalprograms.• Do a better job of reaching out to theagricultural animal research communityAAALAC will look for new opportunities to reachout to the agricultural animal research community tobetter inform them of the benefits of accreditationand dispel the myths and misperceptions that exist.This includes participating in more conferences likelyto be attended by animal science department heads,faculty, investigators and other administrators, andcreating new materials and educational tools for theagricultural animal research community.•aaalac connection11
200512connectionConnecting science and responsible animal care.Connection is published by theAssociation for Assessment andAccreditation of Laboratory AnimalCare International (AAALAC), a privatenonprofit organization that offersaccreditation and assessment programsfor agricultural and biomedical researchprograms. More than 680 institutionsin 26 countries have earned AAALACaccreditation, demonstrating theircommitment to responsible animal careand use, and good science.Comments and submissions forConnection are welcome and should bedirected to the editor.Articles and information in Connectioncan be duplicated with attribution.Staff:John G. Miller, D.V.M.Executive Directorjmiller@aaalac.orgKathryn A. Bayne, M.S., Ph.D., D.V.M.Senior Directorkbayne@aaalac.orgJames Swearengen, D.V.M.Senior Directorjswearengen@aaalac.orgLori Wieder, Editor/Designerlwieder@aaalac.org© 2005 AAALAC InternationalASSOCIATION FOR ASSESSMENT AND ACCREDITATIONOF LABORATORY ANIMAL CARE INTERNATIONAL11300 Rockville Pike, Suite 1211Rockville, Maryland 20852-3035301.231.5353 tel301.231.8282 faxIn Europe:Avenue de Tervuren 4021150 Brussels, Belgium+32.2.761.6678 tel+32.2.761.6679 email@example.comMyths andmisperceptionsabout AAALAC and accreditationPerhaps the biggest barrier agricultural institutions face inseeking accreditation are the myths and misperceptionsthat exist among some investigators and administrators.AAALAC’s Agricultural Research Program AccreditationAdvisory Committee (see page 10) identified some majormisperceptions …MYTH:AAALAC is just another regulatory agencyFACT: AAALAC is not a regulatory agency. AAALACoffers a voluntary, peer-review accreditation program thatis confidential and not subject to FOIA (the Freedom ofInformation Act). AAALAC does not perform inspections,but instead performs collegial evaluations of animal care anduse programs. AAALAC’s goal is to work with institutions tohelp them achieve the highest standards possible for qualityanimal care and good science.MYTH:AAALAC is too expensiveFACT: The monetary cost to apply is relatively low. Oftenthe greatest expense is the time it takes to prepare theinitial accreditation application which includes a “ProgramDescription”—a comprehensive document detailing allaspects of the animal care and use program. After the initialapplication package is complete, it generally takes much lesstime to prepare for subsequent AAALAC site visits.MYTH:We could never afford to get our facilitiesup to AAALAC standardsFACT: What AAALAC looks for is that the housing andcare for farm animals meet the standards that prevail on ahigh-quality, well-managed farm. AAALAC does not expectagricultural animal facilities to mimic biomedical laboratories.MYTH:AAALAC will impose biomedical standardson our agricultural animal research programFACT: AAALAC does not hold agricultural institutionsto the same set of standards used to evaluate biomedicalresearch laboratories. AAALAC uses the Guide for the Careand Use of Agricultural Animals in Agricultural Research andTeaching (published by the Federation of Animal ScienceSocieties) as the primary standard against which agriculturalanimal research and teaching programs are measured.MYTH:AAALAC is part of the IACUCFACT: AAALAC is not linked to the IACUC (InstitutionalAnimal Care and Use Committee) in any way. AAALAC does,however, evaluate the performance of the IACUC when itreviews the institution’s animal care and use program.