Terms of Reference

1.0 Preamble

The University of Windsor Animal Care Committee (ACC) reports directly to the Vice-President, Research and Innovation. The Committee operates to fulfill the University’s legal and ethical responsibilities concerning the use of live, non-human vertebrate animals (hereafter referred to as ‘animals’) in research and teaching. The Committee also is empowered to ensure that the quality and operation of its animal housing facilities, and the care and use of animals in research and teaching are in accordance with guidelines established by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC), the Province of Ontario’s Animals for Research Act, and the University of Windsor procedures as well as other professional and ethical codes and guidelines.

The jurisdiction of the Committee extends to all teaching and research activities involving animals conducted on or off-campus by University faculty, students, and staff.

2.0 Membership

  • The Chairperson of the ACC. The Chair of the ACC reports to the VPRI for all matters concerning animal care at the University of Windsor. This includes matters raised by the ACC, the university veterinarian, animal care staff, and animal researchers,
  • At least two Faculty representatives who may or may not be actively involved in conducting research with animals during their term with the ACC. These members should be drawn from a cross-section of the user departments: Biological Sciences, Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER), Chemistry and Biochemistry, Human Kinetics, and Psychology,
  • The University of Windsor Animal Care Facilities Manager,
  • One person or preferably two individuals from outside the University who represent the interests and concerns of the community and who have/have not been involved in animal use for research, teaching, or testing,
  • One consulting veterinarian, preferably with experience in laboratory animal medicine,
  • At least one technical staff member(s) actively involved in animal care and/or use within the institution,
  • One graduate student who has current or prior animal research experience and/or experience as a teaching assistant in animal laboratories,
  • One university representative is a non-animal user.

The Animal Care Coordinator whose role is as follows:

  • Manage and keep all records of all animal use protocols, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), site visits, and post-approval monitoring.
  • Take minutes of all Committee meetings and provide reports to all members of the Committee and Vice President, Research and Innovation in a timely manner,
  • Maintain files of all correspondence between the Committee, animal users, and the Office of the Vice President of Research and Innovation,
  • Prepare and submit reports to the CCAC and to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) as requested. This includes the annual CCAC Animal Use Data Form (AUDF) (by 31 March of each year) and the annual OMAFRA Report,
  • Prepare Certificates of Compliance to the Office of Research Finance for all approved Animal Utilization Project Proposal (AUPP) on an annual basis,
  • Other persons may be co-opted as required.

3.0 Terms of Office

3.1 The Chair of the ACC is appointed by the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, from among the faculty members of the Committee.

3.2 The members of the ACC are appointed by the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, on the recommendation of the faculty deans.

3.3 Each member of the Committee will serve for a three-year term subject to a maximum of one renewal. Please note that in rare circumstances, when suitable faculty members are not available, an exception may be made to the maximum number of renewals. Also, the consulting veterinarian and the animal care personnel may all serve indefinite terms.

3.4 The Animal Care Coordinator shall serve as secretary to the Committee.

3.5 All decisions of the ACC are based on consensus and include the involvement of all members.

4.0 Frequency of Meetings

4.1 The Committee normally meets four times per year. Additional meetings may be called if necessary.  Regular Committee meetings are generally scheduled for the first week of January/April/July/October. All meetings of the Committee will be scheduled within these weeks at a time convenient to all members of the Committee and must have a quorum consisting of a majority of the Committee members, including the ACC Coordinator, Community Representative, Veterinarian, and Chairperson of the ACC.  

4.2 Detailed minutes of each meeting will be taken outlining Committee discussions, decisions, and recommendations for revisions with respect to each protocol under review as well as procedural and other issues related to the care and use of animals. Decisions are reached using a consensus model. A copy of each set of minutes will be distributed to each member of the ACC and to the Vice-President, Research and Innovation.

4.3 In addition to meetings, members of the Committee will conduct, at least annually, one site visit to each of the animal facilities. The consulting veterinarian, either independently, with the animal care personnel and/or the Chair of the ACC, will conduct site visits to each facility on a more regular basis and at least once per term. The observations from every inspection tour, together with any recommendations and/or commendations, will be discussed at the subsequent ACC meeting and included in the minutes. A report will be provided to the administration of each animal facility as required.

5.0 Authority

The ACC has the authority, on behalf of the senior administrator responsible for animal care and use for the institution, to:

5.1 Stop any objectionable procedure if it considers that unnecessary distress or pain is being experienced by an animal;

5.2 Stop immediately any use of animals that deviates from the approved use, any non-approved procedure, or any procedure causing unforeseen pain or distress to animals; and

5.3 Have an animal euthanized humanely if pain or distress caused to the animal is not part of the approved protocol and cannot be alleviated.

The Chair and Veterinarian have access at all times to areas where animals are or may be held or used.

6.0 Responsibilities and Duties

The ACC will have responsibilities in the areas noted below.

6.1 Ethics Review Mandate

6.1.1 All research and teaching activities involving animals may not begin, and animals may not be acquired without prior ethics review and approval of a written animal use protocol. The content of the animal use protocol must comply with that recommended by the CCAC. The ethics review and approval process, which is conducted by the ACC, ensures that all protocols comply with the requirements of the CCAC and the Ontario Animals for Research Act.

6.1.2 Procedures will be established for the submission, consideration, interim approval, approval, or disapproval of animal research and teaching protocols.

6.1.3 All research and teaching projects involving animals shall be reviewed to determine that the proposed procedures are in accord with relevant provincial legislation and CCAC guidelines and complete, accurate, and current records of the protocols and review process shall be kept. The decisions of the Committee, and any required revisions, shall be communicated in writing to the respective researchers, and a follow-up mechanism be developed to ensure that the required revisions are received.

6.1.4 Subsequent to receiving an approved AUPP, the principal investigator may make minor changes including a small increase in the number of animals required, addition of a student to the project, change in funding source, minor change in experimental protocol, etc.  Such minor changes can be approved by the Chair of the ACC or his/her delegate.  Any major changes proposed to an existing AUPP such as a considerable increase in the number of animals, change in species, need for more invasive procedures, or an entirely new procedure will require submission of a new AUPP and subsequent approval of the new AUPP by the ACC before any animals can be acquired and funds released for the project.

6.1.5 At least once a year all researchers will be required to complete and submit a signed Progress Report for each active protocol. These progress report forms will be reviewed and approved by the ACC and complete, accurate, and current records of extensions of approval and the review process will be kept. This report may also serve as a Request to Renew the AUPP for an additional year. 

6.1.6 All researchers will be required to complete and submit a signed Final Report for each completed protocol at the end of the three-year period. These Final reports will be reviewed and approved by the ACC.

6.1.7 A new Animal Utilization Project Proposal (AUPP) must be submitted after the submission of the Final Report if the research is to continue. All AUPPs are for a three-year term.

6.1.8 Conduct a site visit annually to all animal holding sites on campus and provide a written report on the following issues:

1) The appropriate AUPP and responsible PI posted in each room

2) Cleanliness of cages in each room,

3) Apparent health of animals in each room,

4) Temperature and humidity in each room, and

       5) Up to date record of animal husbandry data posted in each room.  Provide Vice President, Research and Innovation with a copy of the report to all ACC members.

6.1.9 Conduct routine post-approval monitoring visits as outlined in SOP AD14.

6.2 Scientific and Educational Merit Review Mandate

6.2.1 All protocols involving the use of animals must undergo peer review for scientific or educational merit prior to undergoing ethics review and approval through the ACC. The protocol approval process is described in SOP AD03 (Research or Teaching Protocols Involving Animals).

6.2.2 All non-funded and non-externally peer-reviewed research projects involving animals must undergo prior review for scientific merit as per SOP AD04 (Assessment of Research Protocols in the Absence of Peer Reviews).  This includes pilot research, collaborative research involving two or more institutions, and contract or grant research.

6.2.3 The ACC itself does not conduct formal scientific or educational merit reviews for non-funded, non-externally reviewed projects. This is done by the Vice President, Research and Innovation at the request of the principal investigator or Chair of the ACC. Once a research proposal has received positive external reviews, the applicant will be invited by the Vice President, Research and Innovation to submit an AUPP to the ACC.

6.2.4 Protocols which are grant-funded and undergo scientific merit review as part of the peer review process established by the granting/funding agency are not required to undergo additional scientific merit review.

6.2.5 Projects which are conducted as undergraduate or graduate level course or laboratory/ teaching assignments must undergo peer review for educational merit.

6.3 Animal Welfare Mandate

6.3.1 Any objectionable procedure which results in an animal experiencing unnecessary distress or pain shall be stopped.

6.3.2 Any use of animals for purposes other than those already approved or use of non-approved procedures shall be stopped.

6.3.3 Any animal that is in pain or distress that cannot be alleviated shall be humanely euthanized. This may be decided at the discretion of the veterinarian.

6.3.4 The veterinarian has the authority under any circumstances that affect animal welfare to treat, remove from study or euthanize any affected animals.

6.3.5 A set of standard operating procedures shall be developed and reviewed on a regular basis for animal husbandry, facility and equipment management, alleviation of pain or distress, proper and effective use of anesthesia and analgesia, pre-and post-operative care and monitoring, procedures for euthanasia, and other areas as required.

6.3.6 These standard operating procedures shall be communicated to animal health technicians, animal researchers, and course instructors, and these procedures should be implemented and reviewed regularly.

6.3.7 A crisis management program for the animal facilities and the animal care and use program shall be established in conjunction with the University’s general institutional crisis management plan.

6.4 Research Animal Care Facility Mandate

6.4.1 Animals are housed or maintained only in areas that have been inspected and approved for this purpose.

6.4.2 All animal facilities are inspected on an annual basis at a minimum and the facilities and animal care provided within meet provincial and federal standards.

6.4.3 The level of security in the animal facilities is adequate for the protection of the animals housed therein and for the personnel working with the animals. This shall be reviewed on a regular basis.

6.4.4 Recommendations are provided to the manager of the Central Animal Care Facility (CACF), the supervisor of the Freshwater Restoration Ecology Centre (FREC), and the Vice President, Research and Innovation for necessary developments/improvements, maintenance and use of the animal facilities.

6.5 Education Mandate

6.5.1 On-going educational programs consistent with the CCAC guidelines on: institutional animal user training are available for all personnel who will handle animals (i.e. principal investigators, course instructors, post-doctoral fellows, research and technical staff, graduate and undergraduate students) on issues related to the proper care and use of animals in teaching and research, including but not limited to, the ethics of animal experimentation, species-appropriate anesthesia and analgesia, aseptic surgical techniques, establishment of humane endpoints, surgical monitoring, and legislation applicable to laboratory use and care. Teaching and Learning Modules are available through the ACC web site.

6.5.2 All personnel (i.e. principal investigators, course instructors, post-doctoral fellows, research and technical staff, graduate and undergraduate students) engaged in the care and maintenance of animals must be adequately trained and qualified. Opportunities for participation in on-line and external continuing education programs are now available 24/7.

6.5.3 Liaison occurs with the academic community to ensure researchers and instructors receive current information pertaining to provincial regulations and federal guidelines as well as current institutional policies and practices.

6.5.4 Liaison occurs and recommendations are made as needed to appropriate committees within the University so that information can be provided to the general public on matters concerning animal welfare and research and teaching activities involving animals at this University.

6.5.5 Liaison occurs and recommendations are made as needed to appropriate committees within the University so that the safety and security of both the animals and persons involved with the animals are ensured.

6.5.6 Alternatives to the use of animals in teaching and research activities should be encouraged wherever possible.

7.0 Collaborative Research Mandate

7.1 For collaborative projects involving principal investigators from two or more institutions in which the animal-based science is divided between the animal facilities of these institutions, the ACC must receive an Animal Use Protocol detailing the animal-based science to be undertaken within the facilities for which it is responsible.

7.2 The AUPP must also provide a brief description of the project as a whole.

7.3 Any interactions between the institutions relative to the animal-based work (e.g. transfer of animals from one institution to another, special requirements to ensure the health and welfare of the transferred animals, etc.) must be understood and accepted by the Animal Care Committees of each of the institutions involved.

7.4 The Chairs of the respective ACCs will communicate directly with each other to discuss any questions that either committee may have.

7.5 In the case of collaborative field studies, the CCAC guidelines on: the care and use of wildlife should be followed as indicated in section B.3.1.2. Co-investigators are responsible for provision of the reviewed protocol to their home institution, indicating that approval has already been given by the home institution of the lead investigator.

7.6 All collaborative projects must have been found to have scientific merit as determined by independent review by expert peers.

8.0 General

8.1 The Animal Use Data Form is accurately completed and submitted on an annual basis and by the required date to the Canadian Council on Animal Care.

9.0 Appeal Process

9.1 Informal Appeal

9.1.1 A researcher or instructor, who is in disagreement with the decisions of the ACC with respect to any aspect of his/her research project/program regarding the use of animals, may appeal this decision by writing to the Animal Care Coordinator.

9.1.2 The Animal Care Coordinator shall forward the appeal document(s) to the ACC members for discussion at the meeting immediately following receipt of the appeal or at a specially called meeting.

9.1.3 The ACC will review the written document and any additional supporting materials provided by the researcher. An informal meeting may be called between the ACC and the researcher to further discuss the matter.

9.1.4 Following consideration of any additional information, the ACC will reach a decision as to whether or not the additional information/explanation provided by the researcher will result in a change to the ACC decision. Every attempt will be made by the ACC in consultation with the researcher to reach a resolution by informal means.

9.2 Formal Appeal

9.2.1 In the event that a resolution of the matter has not been reached through the informal appeal process, the researcher will refer the matter to the Vice-President, Research and Innovation for opinion and decision.

9.2.2 The Vice-President, Research and Innovation will review documentation provided by the Committee and the researcher, and will consult with others as required, including but not limited to, members of the ACC, the researcher, and the Canadian Council on Animal Care.

9.2.3 The Vice-President, Research and Innovation will issue a decision on the matter in writing with copies to the researcher and the ACC. This decision will be final.

9.3 Conflict of Interest

9.3.1 Actual or potential conflict of interest arises when a member (faculty or staff) of the University of Windsor is in a position to influence decisions made by the ACC which will benefit, either financially or personally, either that member or a person with whom the member has a relationship.

9.3.2 Should such occasion occur, the member must:

i. Declare the nature and extent of the interest as soon as possible and no later than the meeting(s) at which the matter is to be considered;

ii. If a member of the ACC withdraws from the meeting where the matter is being discussed;

iii. Refrain from taking part in any other discussion of the matter; and

iv. Refrain from voting on the matter.

Revised: November 2020

Contact the Animal Care Committee

If you have any questions or require further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Animal Care Committee
Chrysler Hall North
Room 2138
519-253-3000 ext. 3741