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Attending Veterinarian / Researcher Veterinarian


The purpose of this statement is to distinguish between the Attending Veterinarian and the Veterinarian who is also a researcher and their respective responsibilities.


Federal law requires that institutions that use animals in research and teaching have an Attending Veterinarian who shall provide adequate veterinary care to its animals in compliance with the regulations. The Director of the Office of Laboratory Animal Care (OLAC) is the Attending Veterinarian of record under the Animal Welfare Act for the University. Programs of veterinary care must be described in writing to regulatory agencies, and there are specific record-keeping requirements.

Adequate veterinary care consists of programs for preventative medicine; surveillance, diagnosis, treatment, and control of disease, including zoonosis control; management of protocol-associated disease, disability, or other sequelae; anesthesia and analgesia; surgery and postsurgical care; assessment of animal well-being and euthanasia. Although the Attending Veterinarian is responsible for overseeing the care and use of animals and for ensuring that adequate veterinary care is provided, elements of the program can be delegated to other veterinarians or animal care staff.

Many university researchers are also veterinarians. In some cases, these veterinarians choose to deliver veterinary services for their own experimental animals. While these individuals may be highly qualified veterinarians, they may not be familiar with laws or regulations regarding research and teaching animals. In addition, a conflict of interest may develop regarding the best interests of the research animal if a researcher is solely responsible for clinical care.


Attending Veterinarian

  • A veterinarian who is certified or has training or experience in laboratory animal science and medicine or in the care of the species being used.
  • Must have the appropriate authority to ensure that adequate veterinary care is provided and to oversee the adequacy of other aspects of the animal care and use program.
  • Must be a voting member of the IACUC, but may delegate this responsibility to another DVM who has program authority.

Program of Adequate Veterinary Care

  • Availability of appropriate facilities, personnel, equipment, and services
  • Use of appropriate methods to prevent, control, diagnose, and treat diseases and injuries, and the availability of emergency, weekend, and holiday care
  • Daily observation of all animals to assess their health and well-being
  • Guidance to principal investigators and other personnel involved in the care and use of animals regarding handling, immobilization, anesthesia, analgesia, tranquilization, and euthanasia
  • Adequate pre-procedural and post-procedural care in accordance with current established veterinary medical and nursing procedures


The Attending Veterinarian may delegate clinical care to a veterinarian-researcher subject to the following:

  • At the beginning of the experiment, the veterinarian-researcher will meet at least once with the OLAC veterinary staff. The purpose of this meeting will be to work out any unresolved details of veterinary care especially in the event of an unexpected illness after hours, weekends, or holidays.
  • The investigator will be required to keep medical records in the facility with the animals at all times for the information of veterinary staff, IACUC members, and agency inspectors.
  • A mechanism of direct and frequent communication is required so that timely and accurate information on problems of animal health, behavior, and well-being is conveyed to the attending veterinarian (or delegate). The method and frequency of communication depends on the project and species and will be determined during the initial meeting between the veterinarian-researcher and the OLAC staff veterinarians.
  • Medical records for research involving client owned animals that are not housed on university property will be maintained according to existing veterinary hospital recordkeeping procedures.


  1. CFR (Code of Federal Regulations). 1985. Title 9 (Animals and Animal Products), Subchapter A (Animal Welfare). Washington, D.C.: Office of the Federal Register.
  2. PHS (Public Health Service). 1986. Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 28 pp. [PL 99-158, Health Research Extension Act, 1985]
  3. NRC (National Research Council). 1996. Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
  4. ACLAM 1996. Report of the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine on Adequate Veterinary Care in Research, Testing and Teaching.