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The APHIS Animal Care program has revised two policy documents - the Animal Care Policy Manual and the Inspection Guide - with regard to euthanasia methods.
Previously, those two documents incorporated the AVMA euthanasia guidelines as the acceptable methods of euthanasia, despite the fact that the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the AWA regulations make no mention of the AVMA guidelines:
The AWA regulations as to euthanasia state:
(xi) Methods of euthanasia used must be in accordance with the definition of the term set forth in 9 CFR part 1, § 1.1 of this subchapter, unless a deviation is justified for scientific reasons, in writing, by the investigator.
and that definition read:
Euthanasia means the humane destruction of an animal accomplished by a method that produces rapid unconsciousness and subsequent death without evidence of pain or distress, or a method that utilizes anesthesia produced by an agent that causes painless loss of consciousness and subsequent death
Not one word about the AMVA guidelines. When Animal Care added the AVMA guidelines to the Inspection Guide, they were, in effect, amending a regulation without complying with the Administrative Procedures Act.
Because the AVMA guidelines are problematic as to euthanasia for ornithological research conducted in the field, the OC initiated a series of written requests and discussions with the Animal Care deputy administrator, the APHIS general council, and other APHIS authorities.
As a result, APHIS has revised the Animal Care Policy Manual as follows:
“Appropriate methods [of euthanasia] may include*, but are not limited to*, those described in the “AVMA Guidelines for Euthanasia
And the Inspection Guide as follows:
"Any deviation from the methods of euthanasia as defined in the AWA regulations which were justified for scientific reasons, in writing, by the investigator (2.31)(d)(1)(xi)"
on page 7-26
The other change of importance is indeed the delegation of this decision to the IACUC, which is where it always belonged (though the wording is a bit inartful)