Research with animals plays a pivotal role in efforts to cure disease.
Knowledge gained through research with animals saves lives and improves quality of life for people and animals.
Researchers need to understand a disease before they can cure it. They use different research models depending upon what question they are trying to answer: molecules, genes, cells, tissues, computer models, animals, and people. Different models are needed at different stages of the research.
Scientists are serious about their responsibility to treat research animals humanely. It is not only a legal requirement. It is also a scientific necessity and the right thing to do.
Animal research is heavily regulated: All research protocols involving animals must be approved in advance by an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, and everyone who works with animals—researchers, caretakers, and veterinarians—must have the right training for their job.
Some people say that the Animal Welfare Act is the only federal law governing animal research. This is not true. In fact, there is a multi-faceted system of animal welfare oversight in this country:
Animal Welfare Act: applies to most warm-blooded vertebrate species, with the notable exception of rats, mice, and birds bred for research.
Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals: applies to all vertebrate animals (cold-blooded as well as warm-blooded) in research that is funded by the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies.
Good Laboratory Practices Act: applies to all research submitted to the FDA for the approval of drugs and medical devices and to the EPA for safety testing.
Many research facilities also seek voluntary accreditation from the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, International.