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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?: 

For much of the work that we do on wild animals, we as researchers/professional zoologists usually have far more experience with working on these animals, and with the techniques that we usually carry out on these animals, than most veterinarians would have.  I agree that when researchers do not have experience with particular techniques/animals, they should receive training from appropriately experienced people, who in some cases would be veterinarians.  However, once we have the experience, there is no need to have a veterinarian present.  The animal ethics application process asks whether project participants have the required expertise, and if they do not, asks who will provide this training; thus the animal ethics application process ensures that researchers without the appropriate experience do not perform anesthesia and surgical procedures until they are trained.  Requiring a veterinarian to be present during procedures for which researchers are well trained and experienced has the potential to significantly impact on the research productivity of Australian biologists, and this would be particularly true for research involving field work in remote areas.  Indeed, it is likely that researchers would not be able to find suitable and willing veterinarians to accompany us on long stints of remote fieldwork, even if we had sufficient funding to pay for them.  Thus, such a requirement would effectively shut down many field projects.

10.Comment is sought regarding the proposal for a Category E membership category for an Animal Ethics Committee to be mandatory for institutions that have or maintain animal breeding or holding facilities. How would the proposed changes work for your AEC?: 

The problem with this proposal is that for an animal ethics committee to be quorate, one third of the members present at the meeting must be from categories C (people independent of the organization with interest in animal welfare and endorsement by an animal welfare organization) and D (people independent of the organization who have never used animals in research or teaching).  It is already very difficult for our university to find Category C and D members for its animal ethics committees given the large time commitment they must make to read all applications and be present at monthly meetings.  The more categories of membership there are for these committees, the more likely it is that the absence of particular C or D members will prevent meetings from achieving the necessary quorum, thus postponing consideration of applications to a subsequent meeting.

Page reviewed: 1 March, 2013