Scientific institutions that use animals in research experiments are urged to follow the "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals," revised for the sixth time and published earlier this year by the Department of Health and Human Services. The guidelines are not compulsory, but if research institutions want to be eligible for federal support -- as most of them do -- they must agree to follow them as a condition of their grant.
Here is a brief description of some of the major guidelines:
*Animal care and use committee. Research institutions must create such committees, whose members include an experienced veterinarian, a research scientist and an individual who is not affiliated with the institution.
*Housing. The caging or housing system must be designed carefully to facilitate animal well-being, meet research requirements and minimize variations in experiments.
*Environment. The environment in which animals are held should be appropriate to the species and its life history. Temperature and humidity are probably the two most important factors in an animal's physical environment because they can affect metabolism and behavior.
*Food. Animals should be fed palatable, uncontaminated and nutritionally adequate food daily or according to their particular requirements. Animals should also have continuous access to fresh, potable, uncontaminated drinking water.
*Surveillance. All laboratory animals should be observed daily by a trained person for signs of illness, injury or abnormal behavior.
*Anesthesia. The proper use of anesthetics, analgesics and tranquilizers in laboratory animals is necessary for humane and scientific reasons and must be matters for the attending veterinarian's professional judgment.
*Euthanasia. The procedure of killing animals rapidly and painlessly when appropriate should be carried out by trained personnel using acceptable techniques.