Scientists’ commitment to the ethical treatment of animals is not new. Individual researchers concerned about the welfare of laboratory animals were the first to set voluntary care standards in the early 1900s, long before federal laws and regulations were instituted. The first federal guidelines for research animal care published in 1963, the original Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, were based on standards developed by veterinarians and other scientists because the success of their work depended on consistent, high quality care of the animals needed in the laboratory. As is common in medicine, professional standards in the form of codes and policies adopted by specialty groups have been established for many fields that rely on animal research. Numerous academic and professional societies have continued to improve their standards governing animal research in light of new scientific information as well as evolving legal requirements. Please see the menu at right for representative examples of current professional standards for various types of research.
Since proper animal care is so important to research results, the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) was founded in 1950. Today the organization has more than 12,000 members ranging from veterinarians to laboratory technicians and research administrators. AALAS is dedicated to developing and maintaining the highest standards of animal care and to fostering these standards through education and certification programs for animal technicians and animal facility managers. Veterinarians recognized the specialty of laboratory animal medicine in 1957 with the creation of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) to administer the related certification program. The American Society of Laboratory Animal Practitioners (ASLAP) came into being after passage of the Animal Welfare Act to help define among other things the meaning of “adequate veterinary care” as required by the Act. In response to the special needs of nonhuman primates, the Association of Primate Veterinarians was formed as a forum for sharing knowledge and experience. For additional details regarding specialty groups and their certifications programs, please refer to the right-hand menu.