Current Viewpoints From Regulators and Peer Reviewers: Social Housing

Current Viewpoints From Regulators and Peer Reviewers: Social Housing


Good afternoon and I’m gonna be giving you
the OLAW perspective on social housing. I did wanna, again,
reiterate what was mentioned this morning. This is the third house,
social housing symposium, and OLAW is very pleased to
be involved with this. This symposium,
the other organizers are USDA Animal Care, USDA AWIC, John Hopkins Center for
Alternatives to Animal Testing, the Division of Comparative Medicine and
Pathobiology. And as I said, our wonderful sponsors and vendors that have also been
supporting the program today. And the Vision of Veterinary Resources at
NIH is now represented because Eric has moved from Hopkins to NIH. So we all really want you all
to engage here, this activity. The way this really works so well is that you hear these wonderful
presentations in the morning. Then in the afternoon, we have
breakout sessions where you really get to get down and dirty about what
you are doing at your program. What happens here stays here. Doesn’t go anywhere outside the rooms, and
I really encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to engage
with the different people that are presenting in the morning for
both today and tomorrow. Okay.
I’ve said my piece there. We’re gonna move on. So how does NIH get involved in all this? Well, if you’re receiving funds from NIH,
the PHS policy is applicable. And that’s this little blue book
here that you see up on the slide. So, if you’re receiving those funds, your institution is required to follow
that policy, and one of the things in the policy it says you gotta follow the
animal welfare act, if it’s applicable. So if you’ve got regulated species, you
need to make sure that you’re following the animal welfare act regulations. And when Carol was mentioning
federal funding agencies, you have to have records available. That’s where this kind of overlaps, where if we were coming to do a site
visit of you, we would also be looking at any of your records that were related
to the Animal Welfare Act also, just to be up to speed that you’re
in compliance with the regulations. The PHS policy also says that you have
to follow the guide for the care and use of laboratory animals. The most recent edition is shown there,
the eighth edition. Institutions must base their
programs on the guide. So now I’m gonna focus on what is
the guide say about social housing. A lot of it is very similar to what we
have heard that’s in the regulations with a few special exceptions,
a few more details there. Especially for the species that are not
regulated by the Animal Welfare Act. So the guide starts off by saying that
best housing meets an animal’s physical, physiologic, and behavioral needs. So that’s how we wanna start,
that we wanna make sure that what we were doing for this
animals is meeting all of their needs and then in particular that it’s also
accounting for their social needs. So that’s what we’re starting from here. The guide says that they should
be housed in stable pairs or groups of compatible individuals
unless there’s certain exceptions. And those exceptions are similar to
what we heard in the regulations. Experimental reasons justified to
the satisfaction of the IACUC or because of social incompatibility or
another veterinary indication. What about aquatics? Well here’s where we have a little
bit different things to look at, and we’re gonna have presentations
tomorrow about aquatic species. The guide says that for social housing
of aquatics that whenever possible there should be social housing
of social aquatic species and that enrichment should be encouraged. Although at the time the guide was written
there wasn’t a lot in the literature that they could focus on to present
information about enrichment concepts, and basically encouraging
institutions to do that research and publish it so
that it will help the greater community. But in general,
that enrichment should be appropriate for the species in terms of
enhancing their behaviors, and also hopefully be safe for
the animals and the people using it. Guide also has some specific
recommendations when it comes to African clawed frogs. They’re encouraging the use of
visual barriers, hides and shading, cuz there is some literature out there
showing that this keeps the animals more gentile and getting less excited. So that is a specific recommendation in
the guide for that particular species. It also talks about semi-aquatic reptiles, which I think are are not that typical
in most research facilities, but when they are being used it’s recommending that
they have both the wet and dry environment to allow for all of their normal
behaviors throughout their life cycle. So, more about social housing,
single housing. What does the guide say? There’s again, these specific exceptions
that as long as its justified, based on experimental needs to the
satisfaction of the IOCOOK you can have an exception from social housing animals
or if there’s veterinary related concerns The guide has a specific
list of exceptions. And these are again very similar
to what we saw on the regulations. Animals that are overly aggressive. Animals that are debilitated,
those should, of course, be considered for exclusion from social housing. When there’s a risk of contagious disease
transmission either research related or as part of a quarantine program there
are certainly maybe reasons why you need to singly house animals,
although as we’ve heard, there’s more options that
people have done the research. They’ve been able to show that you can
have paired animals in quarantine. You can have socially housed animals for
lots of different circumstances, as we heard from Kelly today. And that’s always gonna be the better
situation, whenever it can be worked out. Again, incompatibility. Pretty straight forward. Other veterinary reasons as indicated,
and then if it is an experimental need, it should be strongly
scientifically justified. Historically, we used to see when we were
doing site visits where we’d start looking at protocols, and we just see the standard
statement that the PI would put in. And protocol after protocol, saying. I can’t socially house
them because I’ve never have done it before pretty
much was the justification. That won’t won’t fly anymore, gang. So just putting you on notice that
those scientific justifications, if we’re taking a look at them,
we’re gonna call you on it if we think that it’s weak and
the IACUC’s not doing its due diligence. So, and we have done that. And usually when an institution
gets the sense that we have enough serious concern about their
social housing program, they turn themselves around because it really does
have a potential impact on their funding. So, okay,
hopefully you’re not too scared now. I think all of you because you’re here,
you’re not the problems. I’m absolutely sure that, and
I commend you because you are here. You’re learning,
you’re sharing that’s the whole intent. Okay, so if it is necessary to house animals singly
the guide gifts give some suggestions. The shortest duration possible. If they’re gonna be in a small enclosure
give’em a chance to get out and move around and
to a bigger enclosure consider having them housed for periods of time
singly when they have to be, and them put them into pair housing for extended
periods wherever you can make it work. As I said, and
offering additional enrichment items. These are all part of what the guide’s
suggesting on how you can still do right by the animal when you do have to singly
house them for a specific, purposes. The guide also talks about that if you have to have an animal in
the absence of other animals, do more. Have an interaction with
the animal care staff similar to what the the Animal Welfare Act is
talking about this idea that we can still do social interaction with the animal,
by having them be able to visualize other animals, have companion animals in the
room that they have an affiliation with. And whenever possible giving them
more things to do with additional enrichment items. Social stress. As we’ve heard, the guide also it’s
pretty explicit about the fact that not all animals are gonna be compatible
and may not all fit into a social group. And the risks that go along
with when you are pair or group housing animals that there
is a stress period during that, some animals that never quiet adapt
would be in a chronic stress state. You need to be aware of that, and then
the risk for injury and possible death. All there, but we have to get
over our risk-averse situation, our fear of what could happen,
and really look at the practical ways that we can address it to prevent it,
and as we heard from the speakers this morning,
there’s different approaches to take. The training and the engagement of
the staff can really go a long way to establishing the best environment for
the animals. Recognizing to that because
of social hierarchies that occur within the different species,
you can have antagonistic interactions. How you address those, and how you do your best to prevent them
the most serious things from going on. That really goes a long way to having
a stable situation for the animals. A lot of this you probably have
already hear about, again, that you wanna monitor for
social stability. It’s not just once and done,
throw them in the cage and walk away,
of course that would be unrealistic. If there’s ongoing aggression
that you’re going to potentially have to separate the animals. The time out idea is really great
I loved hearing about that today just like we have to with our kids
we do that with our monkeys so. If the strain or
sex is known to habitually have problems create a performance standard
within your program. This is more likely gonna be
applied to rodents where we know the males of certain strains have a
tendency to be really aggressive fighters. So you may have to have a performance
standard where you’re identifying which strains, which particular groups of
animals may have to have more intensive monitoring or special ways of housing them
to keep them from having serious injury. Again, engaging the IACUC with
this kind of program is very important and
along the way keeping them informed, too. Again, we have to we have to recognize
the risk that we take when we socially house animals and what and also
where when do we pull the plug on it and say this animal is never going
to find it’s right partner. It does happen on occasion but you have
to balance the whole situation too. Maybe two weeks later,
a new animal will join your facility and you’ll have love at first site when
those two animals see each other. So, so some of the challenges that
we’ve heard about a lot over the years that we continue to see where programs
are finding solutions to that I just wanna put these here because we know
that these are more challenging than just the standard kind of situations
with large breeding colonies, okay? Certain species are more challenging. Certain types of animals
are more challenging. Adult rabbits, although we’re gonna hear a
little more about that tomorrow I believe Macaques, we’ve heard about a lot today. African Green monkeys. We’ve heard that some programs have
had quite good success and others not. Baboons also have their
fair share of challenges. And, male swine which
we’ll hear about tomorrow. When animals are jacketed. We already heard somebody talk about
that that this morning, that hey, you can work around this. You can figure things out, head cap’s
another one that traditionally 15, 20 years ago, people would just say,
hey, I can’t socially house my animals. They’ve got head caps. But we’ve moved beyond that. Food and
fluid restriction also,improvements in the way that we handle these animals,
the equipments that’s available. It’s making it more and more doable. Again we have we have to always look at,
why has an animal been exempted? Is it truly because you’ve
given up on that animal? Can you re-address it at a later time? Always it’s important to document this,
so that you can go back and look at what, maybe there were certain triggers
that you didn’t notice at the time. And go back and look at the records and
see if there’s other attempts that you can make to possibly make
improvements to your program. Or also to how an individual
animal is handled. Contrary to common belief, these are some
of the things that we also have heard about where institutions have
shown us their success stories. Where they have paired
primates with head caps, and the actual grooming between the animals
actually improves the health of the head caps, without an incidence
of dislodged caps. Male rabbits that have been successfully
housed as young animals and then when placed in the proper environment
with shelters and sight blocks, escape areas that they’ve been successfully
co-housed and as we’ve heard a lot today. Adult macaques that have been successfully
housed with either juvenile animals or with finding compatible partners. And the last note is that
training is paramount. Having your staff who are engaged
committed excited about being there, because they are making
a difference in the animals lives. You just can’t get around that and the
guide of course emphasizes that to too. That the stuff should be trained
to recognize the behavior and biology of the species that they’re
working with and how they can impact and affect the enrichment that is being
provided to those animals and also be part of identifying adverse or
abnormal behaviors. Lots of resources out there. I’m not gonna go into detail about these. We do have a link on our website to all
of the past Social Housing symposia, the presentations that were videotaped
are available from our website. But also the AWIC website,
which is the primary location for all of the past social housing symposia. We also have links to a lot
of other resources if you’ve haven’t taken a look at the OLAW website. And there’s certainly lots and lots of
more material coming out every day. So thank you very much. [APPLAUSE]

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