CVMA | Documents | Use of Animals in Science - Position Statement

Use of Animals in Science - Position Statement

January 21, 2016


The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) recognizes that the use of animals in science contributes to the overall betterment of human and animal lives.

The use of animals for scientific purposes is acceptable only when there are no viable alternatives, and when the use has been scientifically and ethically justified. When animal use is necessary, researchers must strive to use methods and approaches that minimize pain and distress.

The use of animals for teaching and training is acceptable only when justified by educational merit review.  As this type of animal use does not normally generate new knowledge unless it is a component of a research project, any painful procedure requires stringent justification. Inanimate models should be used for teaching when available.

Appropriately trained veterinarians must be an integral part of institutional animal care and use programs. The CVMA supports the use of the Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Medicine (CALAM/ACLAM) Standards of Veterinary Care (1) as a framework for the implementation and delivery of veterinary care in academic, government, and private teaching, testing, and research institutions using animals in Canada. The CVMA also strongly supports the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) program (2), which oversees the use of animals in science. Animal-based studies should be conducted by qualified personnel in accordance with CCAC guidelines and policies and, where applicable, in institutions holding a valid CCAC Certificate of Good Animal Practice® which includes the provision of primary care to the animals by individuals who are experienced and trained in the recognition of species specific pain and distress and can provide competent and consistent veterinary technical support.


Veterinarians are trained to prevent and alleviate pain and suffering in animals and to enhance their physical and behavioural well-being. Veterinarians working with animals in science must be committed to responsible animal use and provide a leadership role in all matters relating to animal welfare. They should apply best current veterinary practices and continually strive to implement the Russell and Burch tenet (3) of the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement) (4). Veterinarians are critical members of research teams. They should work to ensure that those using animals employ the most humane methods on the smallest number of animals required to obtain valid information (5), being mindful of avoidable harm. In addition, veterinarians should be conversant with CCAC policies, guidelines, recommendations and, where applicable, provincial and federal legislation affecting the use of animals in science so that they may support institutional Animal Care Committees in carrying out their mandate.


  1. Canadian Association for Laboratory Animal Medicine (CALAM/ACMAL) Standards of Veterinary Care. Available from: Last accessed October 19, 2015.
  2. Canadian Council on Animal Care. Available from: Last accessed October 19, 2015.
  3. Russell WMS, Burch RL (1959) Principles of Humane Experimental Technique. Available from: Last accessed October 19, 2015.
  1. OIE The use of animals in research and education. Terrestrial animal health code Chapter 7.8. Available from: Last accessed October 19, 2015.
  1. Baynes K, Bayvel D, MacArthur Clark J, et al. Harmonizing veterinary training and qualifications in laboratory animal medicine: A global perspective. ILAR Journal 2011;52:393-403.

Additional reference (not cited)

  1. Griffin G, MacArthur Clark J, Zurlo J, Ritskes-Hoitinga M. Scientific uses of animals: Harm-benefit analysis and complementary approaches to implementing the three Rs. Rev. Sci. Tech. Off. Int Epiz. 2014;33:265-272.

(Revised October 2015)