Manage your animal care and use protocol

Animal Use Guidelines

In order to use animals for research, teaching or testing, the animal user must fulfill all obligations associated with this privilege. These obligations include:

  1. Completion of adequate training to provide competency in handling the species to be used and competency in the procedures to be used. This training may be accomplished through on-line training sites, viewing training videos/CDs, etc., and/or "wet labs and workshops" conducted by the OACC and ARF.
  2. Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee approval to use animals as proposed in the official Animal Care And Use Protocol Form.
    Federal law requires that animal researchers consult with the attending Veterinarian during the planning stages of animal procedures to ensure, among other things, the proper use of anesthetics, analgesics and tranquilizers. When completing the Animal Use Protocol form you will be required to complete a section addressing the use of anesthetics and analgesics, including the dosage and route of administration. The most commonly employed anesthetics and analgesics for laboratory animals; their dose, route of administration, and approximate duration of action are listed below by species. This information should only be used as guidelines, since there may be substantial variation among strains or breeds within a species. Anesthesia dose-response variability has become increasingly common with the advent of genetically modified mice. Consulting with the institutional veterinarian can assist you in choosing the appropriate agent for your particular needs. Additional considerations related to proper use, mechanisms of action, accepted routes of administration, monitoring anesthesia depth, and other technical aspects of using anesthetic agents may be provided by the veterinarian. It is especially important that animal researchers inform the veterinarian if anesthesia-related mortalities are experienced, if the subject's response to anesthetic protocols is inconsistent, if recommended doses of anesthetic or analgesic appear inadequate, etc. Any problems or inconsistencies with analgesia should be considered serious matters, and discussed with the veterinary staff.
    Some anesthetics and analgesics commonly used in veterinary medicine are controlled substances. Most analgesics and many injectable anesthetics are controlled substances. Their use requires the investigator to obtain a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) number or obtain the drug on an individually dispensed basis from the ARF. The ARF maintains DEA registration for the purpose of providing animal researchers with controlled substances that are essential for the conduct of IACUC approved research. An ARF provided controlled substance usage log must be maintained, and these drugs must be stored in a restricted access lock box. To request controlled substances from the ARF you must submit a controlled substance request form to the ARF office.
    Injectable anesthetic agents have long been the choice of laboratory animal researchers, not because of superior anesthetic qualities, but rather because of the relative ease of use. Unfortunately, even when used according to established dosing regimens, anesthesia-related mortalities are much higher for injectable agents, compared to properly administered gas anesthetics. It is much more difficult to control the depth of anesthesia with injectable anesthetics, unless an intravenous catheter is in place. Recovery periods are also generally prolonged, and hypothermia is a common sequella to the use of injectable anesthetics. Whenever possible, inhalant anesthetics should be chosen over injectable agents for use in laboratory animals. The links below provide some guidelines for the choice of anesthetic. The attending veterinarian must be consulted for specific recommendations.
    Analgesic agents for laboratory animals are generally most effective given by injection both prior to initiation of pain inducing procedures and also post procedure if signs of pain are observed. Orally available compounds are generally not recommended because it is difficult to provide accurate, consistent dosing as animals tend to drink less when in pain, analgesics are generally not palatable, and most are insoluble in water. The best regimen for pain management involving painful surgical procedures is to use analgesics preemptively as part of the anesthesia induction. Analgesics should be used for all major surgical procedures, for post-operative pain management. Although, a single dose administered pre-operatively may be sufficient, all animals must be monitored for signs of pain post-operatively to determine whether additional doses are indicated. The use and dose of analgesics is very species and procedure dependent. The links below provide some species-specific guidelines for the choice of available analgesic agents. The attending veterinarian must be consulted for appropriate, specific analgesic regimens.
    Recommendations for the choice of anesthetic are provided in the following sections; divided by species. Note that these are recommended dosages, that have worked with relative consistency in each of the species listed. However, many factors affect the success, or failure, of anesthetics and analgesics including; health of the animal, stress, pain, distress, time of day, metabolic state, etc. All researchers should consult with the veterinary staff for the proper anesthetic/analgesic regimen.
    AMPHIBIANS (Frogs)
    BIRDS (Chickens, Ducks)

ARF Surgery Facilities
General requirements for surgery, survival and non-survival, for all species is described in a detailed summary, "General Surgical Guidelines". A second summary entitled "Rodent Surgical Guidelines" describes specific information and requirements for surgery involving laboratory rodents.

Survival Surgery Guidelines
Survival Surgery, regardless of species, must be conducted aseptically. Surgical procedures on non-rodent species, larger than the laboratory rat, must be conducted in dedicated surgery facilities (ARF surgery facility). General requirements for surgery, survival and non-survival, for all species is described in a detailed summary, "General Surgical Guidelines". A second summary entitled “Rodent Surgical Guidelines” describes specific information and requirements for surgery involving laboratory rodents. In general, aseptic technique, appropriate anesthesia and analgesia, adequate intra-operative patient monitoring, and provisions for post-operative care are minimal requirements for conducting survival surgery in all species. Aseptic surgery principles address the following: sterilization of instruments, surgeon's prep, surgical site prep, and all surgical procedures from skin incision to closure. Anesthesia monitoring is imperative and must be documented in species larger than mice and rats.

Surgical Guidelines

Non-Survival (Terminal, Acute) Surgery Guidelines
Non-Survival Surgery is defined as surgery conducted under general anesthesia, and the patient is not recovered from the anesthesia. Euthanasia is performed at the end of the experimental surgery procedures, usually with an overdose of anesthetic, administered intravenously. Non-survival procedures require the use of clean instruments, and provisions for adequate monitoring of depth of anesthesia.

Minor procedures such as injections, oral dosing, observations, weighing, etc. may be conducted in the animal rooms. The ARF provides procedure rooms with inhalant anesthesia, induction chambers, nose cones, waste gas scavenging devices, and recovery units for those procedures wherein anesthesia may be desirable for restraint or immobilization, such as blood collection, biopsies, iv injections, etc.

Handling and Restraint of all animals, but especially rodents is a skill developed from practice and proper training. Animals should be restrained in a gentle, firm, and quick manner in order to minimize the potential for stress and harm to both the restrained and the restrainer. The ARF offers "hands-on" workshops for individuals requiring an introduction to proper restraint methods.

All research animal housing and husbandry is provide by the ARF staff in accord with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. If an IACUC approved protocol describes non-standard housing conditions, the ARF staff must be informed of the exemption. A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) must be developed by the researcher, approved by the ARF veterinarian, and posted in the animal room. If the PI assumes responsibility for the husbandry of the animals, a log/record sheet must be posted in the room that records husbandry duties performed by the research staff.

Euthanasia of Laboratory Animals
Euthanasia is the act of inducing a humane death. In laboratory animals, euthanasia is most commonly the endpoint of any experiment. It is imperative that researchers conduct euthanasia with respect for the animal's life and with the understanding that pain, anxiety, and distress must be minimized during the procedure. The technique employed for euthanasia should ensure rapid unconsciousness, followed by cessation of cardiac and respiratory functions, and finally, loss of brain activity. Whatever method method is chosen, consideration must be given to reducing the stress and anxiety associated with the procedure. The American Veterinary Medical Association Guidelines on Euthanasia compiled a report in 2020. This report contains specific guidelines for each species, and acceptable methods of euthanasia. View this report at: In order to perform euthanasia on animals, the individual must be adequately trained and competent in the procedure. Euthanasia methods must be detailed in the IACUC approved animal care and use protocol. Methods used must include measures to ensure that death has occurred; that there is no chance for the animal to recover, and regain consciousness. Training is available through the ARF or the Office of Animal Care and Compliance.

Euthanasia of Mouse and Rat Fetuses and Neonates
Late-term fetuses and neonatal rodents are capable of experiencing pain and distress. Consideration must be given to additional requirements to perform humane euthanasia of late-term fetuses and neonates. The NIH Animal Research Advisory Council has developed guidelines for the euthanasia of rodent fetuses and neonates. Review these recommendations for determining acceptable methods of euthanasia for mouse and rat fetuses and neonates.

Euthanasia of Rodents Using Carbon Dioxide
Carbon Dioxide Asphyxiation is the most common method employed to euthanize small rodents (e.g., mice and rats). Proper methodology must be employed to reduce the potential for anxiety, distress and pain associated with high concentrations of CO2. The NIH Animal Research Advisory Council has published Guidelines for Euthanasia of Rodents Using Carbon Dioxide. The ARF has posted these recommendations as an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) in the ARF near CO2 stations. If CO2 euthanasia is used in research laboratories, the PI must request the proper equipment from the ARF, and post the SOP provided by the ARF.

Access to the ARF

  1. Access to the ARF is limited to personnel that are included on an IACUC approved animal care and use protocol, have completed all required AALAS and hands-on training, and are cleared through Employee Occupational Health and Safety as animal handlers.
  2. Access to the ARF is strictly controlled by the ARF office.
  3. All personnel must display their ID card at all times.
  4. All personnel with animal contact must wear an outer protective garment (lab coat or scrubs) while working with animals.
  5. Special Sections of the ARF require additional protective clothing - these provisions are posted at the entrance to these special sections/rooms/suites.
  6. ID Card
    • Everyone must be in possession of an approved ID card while in the ARF
    • No "tailgating" is permitted
    • Upon departure from the UNM HSC, or if ARF access is no longer needed, all personnel are required to notify the Animal Resource Facility, and UNM Hospital Security Office to "deactivate" their card, and HSC Lock Shop Technologies to turn in all issued keys for ARF areas.

The Animal Resource Facility authorizes access. The University Hospital issues ID cards and HSC Lock Shop Technologies issues keys.

  1. Proximity ID Card Access is required for all perimeter doors.
    • Obtain a badge access authorization request from Animal Resource Facility
    • Take the (approved) badge authorization request to the University Hospital Security Office
  2. Keys
    • Determine if you need a key for an animal room
    • Request a key for a specific animal room using a key card request form and obtain authorized signature from the ARF administrative office
    • Take the approved key request to the HSC Lock technologies Office
    • A principle investigator (PI) may request a single key for his/her entire laboratory staff - but the PI will be responsible for the key security
    • Keys must not be "loaned out" other than within a lab
    • Upon departure from the UNM HSC, or if ARF access is no longer needed, all applicable keys must be returned to the HSC Lock Technologies Office
  3. Security and Alarms
    • All entrances to the UNM HSC ARF are controlled by a security system linked directly to the UNM Police Department and UNM Hospital Security
    • Access control, security measures, and "surveillance" technologies are installed in all areas

Animal Procurement and Transfer

The ARF is responsible for ALL research animal procurement. ALL requests for animals and all animal orders MUST be placed ONLY by the ARF office. All requests and inquiries to use animals should be directed to the ARF office. Procedures for procuring animals are detailed below:

  • Prerequisites / Conditions
    To maintain animals in the ARF a Principal Investigator MUST:
    • Have a current, IACUC approved Animal Care and Use Protocol with sufficient numbers available for the species requested.
    • Have an ARF account for billing purposes. To establish an account, direct inquiries to ARF accounting dept.
  • Commercial Vendors
    When placing an animal order for rodents, you must first determine the species/strain/substrain/genotype that you need. If uncertain of the supplier, please visit the following approved vendor list to determine availability, cost, etc.
  • Animal Order Deadlines
    • Animal Orders to vendors are routinely placed on Thursday morning at 10:00am
    • Animal Order requests must be placed through TOPAZ Elements BEFORE 10:00am on Thursday morning the week prior to requested delivery date.

In order to receive animals from another academic or research institution, the transfer must first be approved by the HSC ARF attending veterinarian. The approval is based upon the determination of the health and SPF (Specific Pathogen Free) status of the animals. In order to complete this assessment, the HSC ARF veterinarian must review a Health Surveillance Report, to be provided by the originating institution veterinary staff. Animal transfer procedures:

  1. Complete required MTA form 
  2. Complete the IMPORTING ANIMALS TO UNM form
  3. Forward the document to the originating institution for completion of contact information copying .
  4. Submit the completed form to the with a complete explanation of the request
  5. The ARF office will notify you of approval or disproval of the request, as well as conditions of the importation and quarantine of the animals.
  6. When notified of approval, the PI is responsible for placing an animal order in TOPAZ.
  1. Complete the form EXPORTING ANIMALS FROM UNM
  2. Forward the completed document to the destination institution copying
  3. Coordinate shipment through ARF Supervisor
  4. ARF will manage shipment/transfer

All animals maintained within the ARF must be maintained on a current, IACUC approved Animal Care and Use Protocol. If you wish to transfer animals form one protocol to another, you must know what the animal protocol numbers are. If the animals are being transferred from one PI to another, on approved protocols, the PIs names and protocol numbers must be available.

  1. Complete and submit the appropriate animal transfer form
  2. Provide the following information:
    1. Quantity of animals, number of cages
    2. Age, gender
    3. Housing arrangements requested
    4. Number of cage cards needed
    5. Protocol numbers
    6. PI name(s)
    7. Animal Room requested
  1. Complete and submit MTA form
  2. Complete the form IMPORTING ANIMALS TO UNM
  3. Forward the completed import form to the receiving institution and copy
  4. IMPORTATION: Follow USDA Guidelines for importation of animals into the United States - USDA does not normally regulate import of laboratory rodents unless they have been exposed to foreign agriculture relevant animal diseases. However, specific information should be added to the health certificate based upon USDA Guidelines for Importation of Laboratory Mammals # 1103 []. The CDC regulates import of specific species of animals and infected animals and tissues if they pose a human infectious disease risks. Specific species include nonhuman primates, dogs, cats, ferrets, African rodents and other exotic pets. Specific pathogen free (SPF laboratory mice and rats are not generally regulated by the CDC.

Animal Models

The choice of the proper animal model will be based upon several factors related to the nature of the disease or health issue. The role of genetics, disease susceptibility, size; and anatomical and physiological similarities should all be considered when choosing an animal that is best suited to the objectives of the research. The veterinary staff is available for consultation to assist the researcher in making the proper choice. Principles of humane animal research dictate that the researcher choose the least sentient species available that is appropriate for the research objectives.

Mice and Rats have become the most common animal models in biomedical research since the completion of the human, mouse, and rat genome projects. The following sites are recommended for genotype availability and phenotype information. These sites contain information that is helpful when deciding upon an appropriate animal model:

Grant Application Information

The HSC Animal Research Program is registered as a research facility with the USDA (85-R-0014), has a Letter of Assurance on file with PHS /OLAW (A3350-01) and is fully accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC Accreditation Unit File No. 000222).

The ARF is AAALAC accredited and adheres to all provisions of the PHS policy on the care and use of laboratory animals, the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and the Animal Welfare Act and implementing regulations.

For proposal submission to NIH that involve vertebrate animals the “Worksheet for Review of the Vertebrate Animal Section (VAS)” ( should be referenced to assure that necessary animal program information is provided. NIH published additional guidance for preparing the VAS (, dated January 18, 2012. In addition, ARF provides a boilerplate template to support information that is requested under paragraphs 3-5 of this ARF Boilerplate Checklist.

The UNM HSC maintains 40,000 sq.ft. of animal resource facility (ARF) space, directed by Kevin O'Hair, DVM who is board certified in the College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) and a faculty member of the department of Pathology, School of Medicine. The ARF is located on the contiguous ground floor of the Basic Medical Sciences Building (BMSB) and the Biomedical Research Facility (BRF). The ARF is maintained as a specific pathogen free (SPF) facility essential for current, state of the science research, and contains specialized barrier facilities for breeding laboratory mice. The ARF also provides technical and veterinary support for all educational and research projects utilizing laboratory animals. The ARF encompasses animal housing areas and special use areas such as treatment rooms, procedural laboratories, imaging, biohazardous and chemical exposure research areas, surgery suites and barrier rodent housing rooms. The animal care program is supported by Christie Wilcox, AS, RLATG, Operations Manager, and a staff of six laboratory animal technicians.

Specialized Facilities:

  1. Biohazard (BSL) facilities
  2. Breeding and Research Barriers
  3. Hazardous Chemical Exposure facility
  4. Surgery
  5. Procedure labs
  6. Necropsy
  7. Imaging

All animals at the Health Sciences Center are housed in the Animal Resources Facility (ARF) managed facilities. Animal housing rooms are under temperature and humidity control. The facility is directed by one full time veterinarian, Kevin C. O’Hair, DVM, DACLAM (ARF Director and Attending Veterinarian) and staffed by one operations manager (RLATG), 3 senior animal care technicians (LAT) and 3 animal care technicians; either the ARF Director or an emergency clinical veterinarian is available at all times. Animal care staff conduct routine husbandry procedures (e.g., cage cleaning, feeding and watering) and check animals daily to assess their condition. Clinical observation room sheets are completed daily by the animal care staff and sent to the operations manager. These reports are forwarded to the veterinarian when clinical concerns are reported. Laboratory staff monitor animals when treatments are given and individual animal post procedural condition scores are recorded when determined necessary based upon expected morbidity and as required under the respective IACUC approved protocols. The veterinary personnel monitor animals in their home cages, biweekly or immediately when clinical concerns are reported by animal care or laboratory staff. if animals exhibit any indication of infection, disease or distress, the veterinary staff confers with laboratory personnel to recommend appropriate antibiotics, analgesics or other pharmaceuticals/supportive care. The veterinarian may intervene or recommend euthanasia based on animal welfare concerns.

The ARF director is responsible for the administration of the Veterinary Care Program, oversight of facilities management, supervision, training and compliance. The program of veterinary care includes provisions for health surveillance of all animals, specific quality assurance programs for rodent populations, a quarantine testing program, and specific treatment guidelines.

The ARF director also provides veterinary review and consultation for all educational and research protocols submitted to the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.