Cutting Down Transport Trauma for Animals in Research

Moving animals in research around within an institution is a very common practice. Animals are moved from their housing rooms to laboratories or other locations, such as imaging or surgical facilities. Transportation is inherently stressful to these animals and can expose the public to allergens and diseases. Minimizing the stress of transportation and potential for unexpected exposure to allergens or diseases should always be done by the animal care staff and overseen by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

The Ohio State University recently took a partial step in this direction. It banned all personal vehicle transportation of animals classified as Animal Biosafety Level 2 (ABSL-2) or higher. Animals classified as ABSL-2 have been infected with agents associated with human disease and pose moderate hazards to personnel and the environment. This is a reasonable step, but does not address the animal and public welfare issues associated with transporting an animal in a personal vehicle. Once an animal is put into a personal vehicle, the institution has virtually no ability to oversee the safety and care of the animal. Other Big Ten universities have varying restrictions on personal vehicle transportation; some not allowing any personal vehicle transportation (Indiana University and University of Iowa) and some requiring a careful description of the transportation (University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois, and University of Minnesota). AWI encourages Ohio State and all research facilities to consider the welfare of the animals and public and ensure their policies for transportation of animals in research do not allow use of personal vehicles.