Attending Veterinarian

I. Title 9 C.F.R., Section 2.33 - Attending Veterinarian and Adequate Veterinary Care


(a) Each research facility must have an attending veterinarian who is required to provide adequate veterinary care to the facilities animals (Sect. 2.33(a)). Adequate Veterinary Care is usually determined as what is currently the accepted professional practice or treatment for that particular circumstance or condition.

(1) The attending veterinarian is to be employed under formal arrangements with the research facility. If the attending veterinarian is on a part-time or consulting basis, there must be a written program of veterinary care with a list of regularly scheduled visits to the research facility. The scheduled visits must be appropriate and frequent enough to provide adequate veterinary care to all animals at all times. The schedule should consider the number of animals, the species of animals, the type of housing for the animals, the type of work or research done on the animals, the possibility, or level, of pain or distress that may be involved, and any other conditions or factors that may affect the animals well-being (Sect. 2.33(a)(1)).

(2) The research facility must provide the attending veterinarian with sufficient and appropriate authority to ensure that adequate veterinary care is provided at all times and that he or she is able to oversee the adequacy of all aspects of animal care and use for all animals (Sect. 2.33(a)(2)).

(3) The attending veterinarian must be a voting member of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and have direct or delegated responsibility for the animals at the research facility. If more than one veterinarian is employed by the research facility the attending veterinarian may appoint another veterinarian to the IACUC. The appointed veterinarian must have delegated responsibilities for activities involving animals. A veterinarian engaged principally in research does not meet this requirement (Sect. 2.33(a)(3)).

(b) The research facility must establish and maintain programs of adequate veterinary care that include the following (Sect. 2.33(b)).

(1) That appropriate facilities, personnel, equipment, and services are available so as to comply with requirements (Sect. 2.33(b)(1)).

(2) The use of appropriate methods to control, prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases and injuries. Weekend, holiday, and emergency care must be readily available (Sect. 2.33(b)(2)).

(3) Daily observation of all animals to assess their health and well-being. Daily observation of the animals may be accomplished by someone other than the attending veterinarian, provided that a mechanism of direct and frequent communication is established so that timely and accurate information on problems of animal health, behavior, and well-being is conveyed to the attending veterinarian (Sect. 2.33 (b)(3)).

(4) Guidance is to be provided to the principal investigator, and other personnel, involved in the care and use of animals regarding handling, immobilization, anesthesia, analgesia, tranquilization, and euthanasia (Sect. 2.33 (b)(4)).

(5) Adequate pre- and post procedural care is provided in accordance with current established veterinary medical and nursing procedures (Sect. 2.33(b)(5)).


II. Additional Areas of Responsibility for Attending Veterinarians


(1) Membership on the IACUC (Section 2.31).

(b)(3) Of the members of the Committee:

(i) At least one shall be a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, with training or experience in laboratory animal science and medicine, who has direct or delegated program responsibility for activities involving animals at the research facility (Sect. 2.31 (b)(3)(i)).

(2) Consultation with the principal investigator to minimize pain and distress. Section 2.31(d) in general and section 2.31 (d)(1)(iv) through (xi) specifically.

(d)(1)(iv)Procedures that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to the animals will:

(A) Be performed with appropriate pain relieving drugs unless withholding such drugs is justified for scientific reasons, in writing, by the principal investigator and will continue only for the necessary period of time.

(B) Involve in their planning, consultation with the attending veterinarian or his or her designee.

(C) Not include the use of paralytics without anesthesia. (This is a flat prohibition).

(v) Animals that would otherwise experience severe or chronic pain or distress that cannot be relieved will be painlessly euthanized at the end of the procedure or, if appropriate, during the procedure.

(vi) The animals living conditions will be appropriate for their species in accordance with standards set forth in 9 CFR, Part 3, and will contribute to their health and comfort. The housing, feeding, and nonmedical care of the animals will be directed by the attending veterinarian or other scientist trained and experienced in the proper care, handling, and use of the species being maintained or studied.

(vii) Medical care for animals will be available and provided as necessary by a qualified veterinarian.

(viii) Personnel conducting procedures on the species being maintained or studied will be appropriately qualified and trained in those procedures.

(ix) Activities that involve surgery must include appropriate provision for pre-operative and post-operative care of the animals in accordance with established veterinary medical and nursing practices.

  • All survival surgery will be performed using aseptic procedures, including surgical gloves, masks, sterilized instruments, and aseptic techniques.
  • Major operative procedures on non-rodents will be conducted only in facilities intended for that purpose which shall be operated and maintained under aseptic conditions.
  • Non major operative procedures, and all surgery on rodents, do not require a dedicated facility but must be performed using aseptic procedures.
  • Operative procedures conducted at field sites need not be performed in dedicated facilities but must be performed using aseptic procedures.

(x) No animal will be used in more that one major operative procedure from which it is allowed to recover unless:

(A) Justified for scientific reasons by the principal investigator, in writing.

(B) Required as routine veterinary procedure or to protect the health or well-being of the animal as determined by the attending veterinarian.

(C) In other special circumstances as determined by the Administrator of APHIS on an individual basis.

(xi) Methods of euthanasia used must be in accordance with the definition of the term set forth in 9 CFR, Part 1, Section 1.1, unless a deviation is justified for scientific reasons, in writing, by the investigator. (Recommendations of the AVMA panel on euthanasia should be followed).

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