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Canadian Council on Animal Care releases animal welfare assessment guidelines

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The Canadian Council on Animal Care has published new guidelines regarding animal welfare. The CCAC guidelines: Animal welfare assessment, is one of a series of guideline documents published by the CCAC, based on expert peer advice and scientific evidence, to provide information for investigators, animal care committees, facility managers, veterinarians, technicians, and animal care personnel to facilitate improvements in animal care. 

The CCAC guidelines: Animal welfare assessment applies to all animals used for scientific purposes, including wild animals, either brought into laboratory animal facilities or in the field, and animals owned by third parties that are used off-site (e.g., at commercial farms, or shelters). It is organized around 5 guiding principles:

Guideline 1: The animal care committee is responsible for overseeing the implementation of welfare assessments, but the assessments themselves should be completed by a team involving protocol authors and their delegates, veterinarians, and animal care personnel. Where possible, the assessments should draw on information gathered through research, veterinary, and husbandry activities. 

Guideline 2: Animals should be healthy and express a high prevalence and diversity of positively motivated species-typical behaviour, along with low levels of abnormal behaviour. They should neither experience negative affective states, such as pain, frustration, or fear, nor display behavioural signs of chronic anxiety or depression. 

Guideline 3: Welfare assessments must be performed regularly for all animals. The assessments should take into account physical condition, psychological well-being, and impact of experimental procedures. When known, cumulative lifetime experiences and environmental parameters should also be included in the assessment. 

Guideline 4: Information gathered in relation to welfare assessments should be recorded in a format accessible to investigators, veterinarians, animal care personnel, and animal care committees. 

Guideline 5: The animal care committee should use welfare assessment summaries to identify systemic welfare risks, anticipate welfare implications, and inform future decisions concerning the ethical care and use of animals.

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