In biomedical research, experimental animals have taken on enormous importance as models for elucidating and predicting behavior, health, and disease or for information regarding basic biologic processes. In most areas of research, there is an increasing recognition that constant, dependable experimental conditions are essential in order to obtain reproducible and reliable information. Most investigators are aware of the need for a research system with as few variables as possible, but oftentimes the experimental animal is not considered.
In a living organism, there are two basic sources of variation — genetic and environmental. Accurately defined, standardized, and properly housed laboratory animals are needed in order to accomplish meaningful biomedical research. Use of animals harboring overt or latent diseases, housed in crowded, unsanitary conditions, or maintained in an environment which results in abnormal behavioral and physiological responses certainly compromises and brings into question the validity of research accomplished.
Also, there is concern for the comfort and well-being of the experimental animals themselves. It is unacceptable to subject them to needless suffering or deprivation. Scientific, legal, and ethical considerations have prompted standards that are becoming increasingly comprehensive and rigorous for the handling, care, and use of experimental animals.
A third factor involved in experimental animal care is that of fiscal responsibility. In the face of current financial limitations on animal-based research, from an institutional perspective, centralized management of the animal resources should result in more efficient and economical use of personnel, equipment, and space while concurrently providing appropriate care and housing of animals.
There is a growing recognition that the care of experimental animals is a shared responsibility between the institution and individual investigators and instructors. Many institutions have recognized that animal resources are specialized professionally, economically, and organizationally and that it is preferable to have one centralized unit responsible for all experimental and teaching animal resources.
By experience, it has been shown that such an arrangement is in the best interests of the individual scientist, the host institution, and granting agencies sponsoring research. However, centralized management of animal resources in no way is intended to limit the user’s freedom and obligation to plan and conduct animal experiments and instructional activities in accordance with accepted scientific practice.
Considering the above factors, the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) organized the Animal Resources (AR) unit for the central management of the experimental and teaching animal resources. The AR unit is to provide two basic functions for the College: