Animal Ethics

Research involving animals

A portion of Dal’s research involves the use of animals. We believe that animal research is both necessary and ethical, since it advances our ability to improve human and animal well-being.

Essentially all medical breakthroughs have depended on the use of animals at some level, and animal-based research continues to be critical in the search for treatments and cures for many diseases including cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases and infectious diseases. Hand-in-hand with our research goals, one of Dalhousie’s highest priorities is the ethical and humane treatment of all research animals.

All use of vertebrates and invertebrates in research, teaching or testing at Dalhousie must be covered by an approved protocol. This includes the use of tissues and cells obtained at necropsy or from a slaughterhouse, as well as the use of eggs, protozoa or other single-celled organisms. This requirement also applies to collaborative work done with other investigators from other institutions and research conducted in the field.

With oversight provided by the university veterinarian, Dalhousie's animal ethics committees—the University Committee on Laboratory Animals (UCLA) on the Halifax campus and the Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) on the Truro campus—are responsible for the review and approval of protocols proposing the use of animals. These committees determine if the procedures being proposed are within established guidelines and are humane. The UCLA is a presidential committee reporting through the Office of the VP Research, whose functions and responsibilities are clearly defined by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) guidelines.

The Canadian Council on Animal Care is the national peer review agency responsible for setting and maintaining standards for the care and use of animals in research, teaching and testing throughout Canada.

The CCAC performs regular assessment visits to Dalhousie and other Canadian universities to ensure that these standards are being met. All animal-based research projects conducted at Dalhousie must strictly adhere to the CCAC guidelines, as well as to university policies and UCLA decisions. Dalhousie holds a current Certificate of Good Animal Practice from the CCAC. Learn more about guidelines on the CCAC website.

Animal care staff

A dedicated team of veterinarians and animal care technicians work to ensure that research animals are treated with respect and compassion. These professionals have animal welfare as their first priority. They observe all research animals daily, and provide them with first-class care and attention.

Dalhousie also has a mandatory training program to ensure that scientists using research animals are trained and competent to carry out procedures in ways that will avoid or minimize distress in the animals.

Dalhousie University is committed to placing the highest priority on maintaining rigorous standards for the ethical and humane treatment of all animals within our care.