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Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes submission

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E. Submission
Online Written Submission
Written Submission: 
Specific issues requiring particular consideration
After consultation with stakeholders during the initial phases of this review, specific issues have been identified as requiring particular consideration. Your comment is invited on these issues.
Specific issues requiring particular consideration
5. Should the document include specific guidance regarding the responsibilities of Veterinarians and Animal Welfare Officers?: 

The availability of Veterinary advice and education is essential for the appropriate application of the Code of Practice. The general knowledge of any veterinary surgeon with regard to aseptic technique and anesthesia for surgery is extremely valuable in any animal facility where surgery on experimental animals is carried out for the purpose of medical research. However the idea of a veterinary officer being present to perform or oversee all procedures involving anesthesia and surgery is impractical. Multiple researchers performing surgery would require many veterinary officers to be employed by one institution or the need to significantly restrict surgery of NHMRC funded projects to fit the availability of a veterinary officer. As well as impractical it is unlikely that a veterinary officer (unless very experienced in medical research) could provide specific advice or expertise in many of the surgical procedures performed on rodents by experienced researchers. From my own experience I know of skilled researchers who perform sophisticated heart surgery, pancreatic islet transplants, jugular and carotid vessel cannulation and intracerebroventricular cannulation in rats and mice. These techniques are beyond the expertise of a normal veterinary graduate without the same amount of training as undertaken by the researcher. General surgical training for new researchers and overseeing and education of the general principles of animal surgery are important and necessary aspects of fulfilling the Code of Practice and veterinary officers are essential for this. Suggesting that all surgical procedures should be carried out by veterinary surgeons does not serve the Code of Practice because it would require the training of the veterinary surgeons by the scientists in all the surgical techniques they currently carry out. This would not obviously conform to the principles of reduction, replacement and refinement.

Page reviewed: 1 March, 2013