This project was initiated in response to a letter from Charles Kean,an Associate Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology and Director of the Animal Care Facility at Loma Linda University, to the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Institute for Laboratory Animal Research (ILAR), the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International, and the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) outlining the research animal care community’s concerns about the safe and humane transportation of research animals. Dr. Kean requested that those organizations look into the transportation of research animals and into issues that were adversely affecting animal welfare. In response, ILAR hosted a meeting of various stakeholders to identify and discuss important issues in the transportation of research animals. The meeting was funded by NIH and included representatives of the scientific community, professional veterinary organizations, regulatory and accrediting agencies, animal breeders, and the transportation industry. Special thanks are due to the following for participating in the meeting, which took place December 4, 2001:
Kathryn Bayne, AAALAC International
Frank Black, Air Transportation Association of America, Inc.
Ralph Dell, ILAR
Nelson Garnett, OLAW
James Geistfeld, Taconic Farms, Inc.
Charles Kean, Loma Linda University
Carl Kole, United Airlines
J. Michael Krop, US Postal Service
Steven Leary, Washington University
Emilie Rissman, University of Virginia
Robert Russell, Harlan Sprague Dawley, Inc.
James Taylor, Office of Animal Care and Use, NIH
Richard Watkins, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
William White, Charles River Laboratories
The meeting delineated the problems encountered during and resulting from air and ground transportation of live animals. The participants also focused on mechanisms to solve the problems, including the potential for a future ILAR study. As a result of this meeting, the Elizabeth R. Griffin Research Foundation, NIH, and the National Center for Infectious Diseases sponsored an ILAR committee to address problems associated with transportation of research animals and produce a report that includes recommendations intended for government agencies as well as for individual investigators/animal facility managers who may need to ship animals in the future.
Transportation of research animals may raise concerns related to the well-being of the animals and concerns about how animals are affected by general environmental conditions. These concerns often depend on the species being transported. Shipments from breeders to research institutions are generally well executed through the use of company-owned fleets of environmentally controlled vehicles, but arranging transport from vendors without established transport systems, or between research institutions, can be challenging. Animals may be shipped in vehicles without controlled environments and could be subjected to extreme temperatures. Specific requests for temperature-controlled vehicles may not be honored because the shipper may not have temperature-controlled vehicles available or the request may not have been passed on to a subcontractor hired by the shipper to transport the animals. The USDA has regulatory jurisdiction and inspection authority over transportation of animals through the Animal Welfare Act. However, most animals shipped are rats and mice, which are not covered under the act. The Public Health Service, whose oversight does include those species, does not inspect research animal transportation activities unless a complaint is filed.
The major problem in transporting nonhuman primates is that few airlines are willing to carry the animals. International shipment, the most common transportation of nonhuman primates, is often delayed by a cumbersome, multiagency permitting process involving the USDA Vet- erinary Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Department of Transportation (DOT). Airlines have little incentive to carry the animals because it is not profitable and workers must wear protective clothing when handling them. The latter is disturbing both for workers and for travelers who see them. Finally, many animal rights activists have successfully lobbied the airlines to stop transporting nonhuman primates nationally and internationally.
Transportation of research animals is an essential component of the research enterprise. The integrity and well-being of the animals being transported are necessary for the quality of the research and the welfare of the animals. The lack of clear guidelines that cover all species can cause confusion for individuals without extensive experience in arranging transportation for research animals. In addition, investigators may find it difficult to identify a responsible shipper that will arrange for appropriate caging, inclusion of food and water, and other animal needs during transportation.
In the aftermath of the bioterror incidents involving anthrax in the fall of 2001, the possibility that research animals will be used to carry or disseminate bioterrorism agents must be considered. Breaches in good transportation practices, either purposeful or accidental, could result in the spread of infectious agents. In addition, new legislation (such as the Animal Health Protection Act of 2002) and several guidelines related to homeland security have the potential to complicate the importing, exporting, and transportation of animals and specimens for biomedical research.
The issues identified in the preceding statements led to appointment of the ILAR Committee on Guidelines for the Humane Transportation of Laboratory Animals. The committee held three meetings—in April, September, and December 2004. During the course of its deliberations, the committee sought assistance from many people, who gave generously of their time to provide valuable advice and information that were used in its deliberations. Special thanks are due to the following:
Richard Phelan, Taconic Farms, Inc.
Bonnie P. Dalton, Science Directorate, Ames Research Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Gale Galland, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, National Center for Infectious Diseases
Frank Kohn, FWS
John Monetti, World Courier
Erik Liebegott, Transportech, LLC
Robert Fernandez, Direct Services
William White, Charles River Laboratories
Carol Wigglesworth, OLAW
Bobby Brown, CDC
Carl Kole, Special Cargos, United Airlines
Charles Kean, Animal Research Facility, Loma Linda University
Barbara Kohn, Office of Animal Care, USDA
Eileen Edmonson, Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, DOT
The report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspective and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of the report:
Susan Eicher, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Steven Griffey, University of California, Davis, CA
Kathleen Hancock, Virginia Polytechnic University, Alexandria, VA
Barbara Hansen, All Children’s Hospital, St. Petersburg, FL
Donald Lay, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Tim Morris, GlaxoSmithKline, United Kingdom
William Morton, Paris NHP, Edmonds, WA
Barbara Orlans, Georgetown University, Washington, DC
Frankie Trull, National Association for Biomedical Research, Washington, DC
William White, Charles River Laboratories, Wilmington, MA
Walter Woolf, Air Animal, Tampa, FL
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of the report was overseen by:
Johanna Dwyer, Tufts University, Boston, MA
Steven Pakes, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and VA North Texas Health Care System, Dallas, TX
Appointed by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of the report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of the report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
Ransom L. Baldwin, Chair
Committee on Guidelines for the Humane Transportation of Laboratory Animals
National Academies Press (US), Washington (DC)
National Research Council (US) Committee on Guidelines for the Humane Transportation of Laboratory Animals. Guidelines for the Humane Transportation of Research Animals. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2006. Preface.