Notice Regarding NIH plan to Transition from use of USDA Class B Cats to Other Legal Sources

Notice Number: NOT-OD-12-049

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

Key Dates
Release Date: February 8, 2012

Related Notices
NOT-OD-11-055 http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-11-055.html

Issued by
National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Purpose

The National Institutes of Health is implementing a plan to limit the expenditure of funds for the acquisition of cats for NIH-supported research to legal sources other than USDA Class B dealers 1.  This transition plan is in accordance with the recommendations of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR) report Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random Source Dogs and Cats in Research (2009) http://dels.nas.edu/Report/Scientific-Humane-Issues/12641

Background
Many medical advances that enhance the lives of both humans and animals originate from animal studies. The types of animals used in research are chosen for their biological similarity to humans in areas such as anatomy, physiology, and genetics. This research can lead to insights into how to prevent, treat, and cure human diseases. Often the treatments developed for humans can also be used to improve the health of animals.

The majority of dogs and cats used in biomedical research are either “purpose-bred” for research by USDA Class A dealers, or bred and raised in privately owned research colonies. Some research dogs and cats, however, commonly referred to as “random source” animals, have been procured from USDA licensed Class B dealers.  These dealers acquire dogs and cats from random sources which may include individual owners, small hobby breeders, pounds and animal shelters.

The public and Congress have expressed concern about the humane treatment of animals acquired for use in biomedical research, particularly that of “random source” dogs and cats.  In FY2008, the NIH Appropriations language asked the NIH to “seek an independent review by a nationally recognized panel of experts of the use of Class B dogs and cats in federally supported research to determine how frequently such animals are used in NIH research and to propose recommendations outlining the parameters of such use, if determined to be necessary.”  (Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriation Bill, 2008 (S. 1710) Referenced in the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2008, P.L. 110-61 signed 12/26/2007.)

NIH commissioned the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to conduct a study on the use of Class B dogs and cats in NIH supported research. In May 2009 representatives from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) met with NIH staff and delivered the study report Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random Source Dogs and Cats in Research.  The report made a number of recommendations and concluded that continued access to animals can be accomplished with existing alternative mechanisms other than Class B dealers and can be assured with additional effort.

NIH Guide Notice NOT-OD-11-055  Guidance on the NIH Plan to Transition from the use of USDA Class B Dogs to Other Legal Sources provided background and a description of the transition regarding the implementation of the Insitute for Laboratory Animal Research report Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random Source Dogs and Cats in Research (2009) recommendations with regard to Class B dogs.  Guidance provided in that notice regarding the use of USDA Class B dogs is unchanged.  Guidance with regard to the procurement and use of cats is set forth in this notice.

IMPLEMENTATION
NIH strongly encourages awardees that use or are considering acquisition of cats from USDA Class B dealers for use in NIH-supported research to promptly begin identifying sources of cats from other legal sources. Given the apparent limited use of cats from USDA Class B dealers in NIH research, it is not necessary to  augment other available legal sources.  Rather, implementation of NIH policy prohibiting the procurement of cats for NIH-supported activities from USDA Class B dealers will be as follows:

Ongoing NIH-supported research in FY 2012:  All ongoing NIH-funded research involving cats previously obtained from any legal source may continue. 

Noncompeting and competing awards issued on or after October 1, 2012 (with FY 2013 funding) are prohibited from using NIH funds to procure cats from USDA Class B dealers.  The procurement of cats may only be from USDA Class A dealers or other approved legal sources.

This policy on procurement and use of cats from legal sources other than USDA Class-B dealers allows NIH to implement the recommendation of the Institute for Laboratory Animal Research report Scientific and Humane Issues in the Use of Random Source Dogs and Cats in Research (2009)that states:
“Although random source dogs and cats represent a very small percentage of animals used in biomedical research, this small number is not commensurate with their potential value, and it is desirable to assure continued access to animals with random source qualities. This access can be accomplished with existing alternative mechanisms other than Class B dealers and can be assured with additional effort.”

1Other legal sources include USDA Class A dealers, privately owned colonies (e.g. colonies established by donations from breeders or owners because of genetic defects) or client owned animals (e.g. animals participating in veterinary clinical trials).

Inquiries

General inquires about this change may be directed to:

Margaret Snyder, Ph.D. 
Office of Extramural Research
National Institutes of Health
6705 Rockledge Drive, Suite 5040
Bethesda, MD 20892
Phone: (301) 402-1058
E-mail; snyderm@mail.nih.gov


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