Terms of Reference for the UCLA


  1. Dalhousie University (Dalhousie) is committed to the principle that the use of animals in research, teaching, and testing is acceptable only if it promises to contribute to an understanding of fundamental biological principles, or to the development of knowledge that can reasonably be expected to benefit humans or animals. Furthermore, all proposed animal use must first be examined with a view to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals whenever possible.
  2. To ensure that this commitment is carried out, Dalhousie has established a committee on laboratory animals to facilitate research that complies with Canadian Council on Animal Care Guidelines and Policies (the CCAC Guidelines).

Section I. The Committee

1.01 There shall be a University Committee on Laboratory Animals (the UCLA) which will report to the Vice President Research (the Vice President).

1.02 The Vice President will determine the number of members on the UCLA and will be responsible for appointing members to the UCLA.

1.03 The term of office for members of the UCLA shall be as follows:

  1. Ex-officio members, the University Director of Animal Care, the facility directors/managers and the Laboratory Animal Training Coordinator shall not have a term of office.
  2. The graduate student members and the animal care technician will be appointed for a term of one year, renewable at the Vice President's discretion for 2 additional terms to a maximum of 3 of years.
  3. All other members will be appointed for a term of three years, renewable at the Vice President's discretion for one additional term of 3 years.

1.04 The Vice President will ensure that the UCLA includes the following members:

  1. 2 faculty members from the Carleton Campus who use animals in research, teaching or testing;
  2. 2 faculty members from the Studley Campus who use animals in research, teaching or testing;
  3. 1 faculty member affiliated with the IWK Health Centre who uses animals in research, teaching or testing
  4. 1 faculty member from any Dalhousie department, school, college or faculty who does not use animals in research, teaching or testing;
  5. 2 graduate students;
  6. 2 external community members;
  7. The manager of each animal care facility at Dalhousie (ex officio). In the event that none of the managers is an Animal Care Technician, one Animal Care Technician shall also be appointed;
  8. The University Director of Animal Care (ex officio);
  9. The Laboratory Animal Training Coordinator (ex officio);
  10. The co-ordinator of the UCLA (ex officio) (non-voting);
  11. 1 or more designates from the office of the Vice President (non-voting);
  12. Chair of Life Sciences Animal Users Committee (ex officio) (non-voting);
  13. Chair of Carleton Animal Users Committee (ex officio) (non-voting);
  14. Chair of Aquatron Animal Users Committee (ex officio (non-voting); and
  15. any other person the Vice President may deem appropriate.

1.05 The Vice President will appoint a Chair of the UCLA from among its members as defined above. A member who is a Dalhousie veterinarian or who has a conflict of interest with the UCLA may not act as Chair. The following will be considered as a conflict of interest:

  1. a direct involvement in the management of a Dalhousie animal care facility;
  2. involvement as an animal user in a significant number of the protocols presented to the UCLA.

Section II. UCLA Authority

2.01 The UCLA has the authority to:

  1. Stop any objectionable procedure if it considers that unnecessary distress or pain is being experienced by an animal;
  2. Stop immediately any use of animals which deviates from the approved use, any non-approved procedure, or any procedure causing unforeseen pain or distress to animals; and
  3. Have an animal killed humanely if pain or distress caused to the animal is not part of the approved protocol and cannot be alleviated.

2.02 The UCLA's authority with respect to the points above is also delegated to the University Director of Animal Care and his/her delegates approved by the UCLA, who shall make full reports to the UCLA in cases where this authority is exercised.

2.03 The Chair of the UCLA and the University Director of Animal Care have the right to access at all times to all areas where animals are or may be held or used.

2.04 University veterinarians have the authority to treat, remove from a study, or euthanize if necessary, any animal according to their professional judgment.

2.05 The UCLA, particularly the veterinary staff, will work with principal investigators and research staff to correct minor breaches of compliance in a collegial manner. Persistent or serious breaches of compliance will be brought to the attention of the Chair of the UCLA, who will arrange a meeting and/or correspond in writing with the principal investigator to achieve CCAC approved standards of animal care and use. If necessary, the concerns of the UCLA will be communicated to the Vice President by the Chair or the University Director of Animal Care.

Section III. Protocols

3.01 No animals shall be ordered or used without prior UCLA approval of a written protocol submitted to the UCLA in accordance with the terms of this Policy and any UCLA approved procedures.

3.02 All animals held at Dalhousie or the IWK Health Centre for breeding, display or eventual use in a research, teaching or testing project are required to be covered under an approved protocol.

3.03 All animal users are required to complete an animal care protocol application form.

3.04 Prior to approval by the UCLA, each research project must be found to have scientific merit through independent peer review. If the review is not carried out by an external, peer review agency, Dalhousie Research Services shall be responsible for implementing a mechanism through which non-peer-reviewed projects are reviewed for their scientific merit either by calling upon the expertise of individual independent peers or by making use of scientific committees or advisory boards. Confirmation of scientific merit must be received from Dalhousie Research Services before the UCLA can give full ethical approval to an animal-based research

3.05 The UCLA is responsible for reviewing and approving all protocols. When reviewing protocols, the UCLA will consider the Canadian Council on Animal Care's Guide to the Care and Use of Experimental Animals, Ethics of Animal Investigation and Guidelines on: Animal Use Protocol Review as well as all other relevant CCAC guidelines and policy statements.

3.06 In cases where protocol approval is urgently required, a subcommittee of the UCLA, which shall consist of the Chair of the UCLA, a university veterinarian and one community member will review the protocol submission and may grant pro tem approval pending review by the full UCLA at the next scheduled meeting.

Section IV. Facilities and Animal Care

4.01 The UCLA is responsible for inspecting and approving all Dalhousie facilities for the housing, care and production of animals and for visiting each facility at least once per year. Site visit reports will be produced, made available to the Vice-President and the UCLA will follow up with him/her on any concerns.

4.02 The UCLA is responsible for ensuring that there is a person designated to be in charge of each Dalhousie facility for the housing, care and production of animals and that the animal care users and care givers are qualified and properly trained.

4.03 The UCLA is responsible for ensuring that security procedures are in place in all Dalhousie animal facilities.

4.04 The UCLA is responsible for ensuring that appropriate care, including adequate veterinary care, is given to animals in all stages of life and in all experimental situations in compliance with the CCAC Guidelines, CALAM Standards of Veterinary Care, applicable legislation and Dalhousie regulations, policies and standard operating procedures.

4.05 The UCLA will be available to render assistance to animal users and care givers in the event of any unanticipated problems, and to advise and educate animal users and care givers with respect to the CCAC Guidelines, any applicable legislation and Dalhousie regulations, policies and standard operating procedures and to provide recommendations with respect to animal use and animal care.

4.06 The UCLA will establish standard operating procedures, commensurate with current veterinary standards, to ensure that:

  1. unnecessary pain or distress is avoided, and animal stress and injuries are avoided, whether during transfers of animals or in their normal quarters;
  2. anesthesia and analgesia are properly and effectively used; the only exception to this may be when agents must be withheld as a scientifically justified requirement of the study, and that this has been approved by the UCLA. Painful studies requiring exemption from the use of either anesthetics or analgesia must be subject to particular scrutiny, not only prior to approval, but also during the experiment;
  3. appropriate post-operative care is provided;
  4. all due consideration is given to animal welfare, including environmental enrichment.

Section V. Meetings

5.01 The UCLA will meet no fewer than 10 times each calendar year.

5.02 A quorum consists of 50% plus one of the appointed members of the UCLA, which must contain one faculty member, one community member and one veterinarian.

5.03 The UCLA may form one or more subcommittees to conduct any part of its business, provided that the decisions and actions of a subcommittee are subject to ratification by the UCLA at a meeting. The quorum for a subcommittee will be as considered appropriate by the UCLA in each case, but it should include either the Chair or a veterinarian.

5.04 The UCLA will be responsible for setting the procedures which will govern the meetings and other activities of the UCLA.

5.05 The UCLA will be responsible for setting the procedures for review and approval of protocols and the consensus necessary for any decision with respect to a protocol.

5.06 Members of the UCLA shall hold confidential materials including research protocols associated with the UCLA and all discussions that take place at meetings of the UCLA in the strictest confidence.


Section VI. General

6.01 The UCLA will regularly (no less than every three years), review:

  1. these Terms and Conditions to reflect changes in the CCAC Guidelines or community concerns;
  2. the security of the animals and research facilities;
  3. standard operating procedures and policies; and
  4. policies and procedures for monitoring animal care and experimental procedures.

6.02 The UCLA will develop policies and procedures for post-approval monitoring of animal care and experimental procedures.

6.03 The UCLA will liaise with the CCAC on behalf of Dalhousie and provide such information to the CCAC that it may require from time to time, including annual animal use data as required.

6.04 The UCLA will submit complete and accurate animal use information in the CCAC Animal Use Data Form and in pre-assessment documentation in the manner proscribed by the CCAC.

6.05 The UCLA will develop a crisis management program for the facilities and for the animal care and use program, in conjunction with any general institutional crisis management plan(s).

6.06 The UCLA will implement policies to ensure the training and qualifications of animal users and animal care personnel; veterinarians and animal care staff must receive continuing education in their field.,

6.07 The UCLA will collaborate with Dalhousie's Environmental Health and Safety Office to ensure there is an occupational health and safety program for those involved in animal care and use.

6.08 The UCLA will act as a general resource to Dalhousie animal users and caregivers and will sponsor workshops and other information sessions.



Functions & Policies

The information provided in the Terms of Reference is intended to accompany the information found in Functions & Policies.