Here are answers to common questions about AAALAC and its policies ...
What types of institutions are eligible for AAALAC accreditation?
Any institution using animals for research, teaching or testing is eligible to apply for AAALAC accreditation. This includes universities, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, agricultural research programs, hospitals, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. However, an institution can only apply if it has an active program that includes:
- professional, technical and administrative support
- policies and programs for institutional responsibilities, animal husbandry and veterinary care
The program must be in place and operational prior to applying for accreditation.
Does AAALAC set its own standards?
No, AAALAC is not a regulatory body and does not make regulations. Instead, AAALAC relies on Three Primary Standards, the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Guide, NRC 2011); the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (Ag Guide, FASS 2010); and the European Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals Used for Experimental and Other Scientific Purposes, Council of Europe (ETS 123); along with other widely accepted guidelines. To receive accreditation, an institution must meet all applicable local and national regulations, and the standards outlined in the Guide, Ag Guide, and/or ETS 123 which go beyond the minimums required by law. AAALAC does publish "position statements" that can be used as supplemental guidelines in dealing with certain issues, such as the use of farm animals, occupational health and safety, or adequate veterinary care.
What kinds of deficiencies are cited most often by AAALAC evaluators?
The number of deficiencies found during site visits continues to decline. In fact, the majority of institutions renewing their accreditation had little or no difficulty with their re-evaluation.
When problem areas are cited, they most frequently involve issues surrounding the institution's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee or other comparable oversight body (e.g., Ethics Committee, Animal Care Committee, etc.); inadequate heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; or occupational health and safety concerns. Few deficiencies are found in the areas of veterinary care or animal husbandry.
Why is the accreditation process confidential?
In the United States and in many other countries, federal regulatory bodies oversee the welfare of research animals. This is often done by performing inspections, with the results becoming public information.
In contrast, AAALAC's entire accreditation process is confidential. The accreditation evaluation and its results are kept between the organization seeking accreditation and AAALAC International, even if deficiencies are found.
AAALAC's purpose is to provide an open, fair and impartial peer-evaluation that results in valuable suggestions and information organizations will use to improve their programs and achieve new levels of excellence. To encourage frank and forthright dialogue that results in real advances in animal care, AAALAC assures its program participants that none of the details of their evaluations will be made public by AAALAC. However, if the institution chooses to release the details itself, it is free to do so.
The only information AAALAC shares about an institution is if it is accredited or not.
How does an institution maintain accreditation?
To maintain accreditation, subsequent site visits and in-depth re-evaluations are held every three years. Institutions awarded AAALAC accreditation are also required to submit an annual report noting any changes or additions to their programs.
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