Animal Care Committee and Protocol Review

The ACC is committed to the highest standards of animal welfare in research and teaching by providing leadership and support for the animal care and use program at the University of Ottawa and its affiliated institutions.

All animal care and use is reviewed and approved by the uOttawa Animal Care Committee (ACC), which includes community representatives, veterinarians, animal health technicians, scientists, students and administrators (see Terms of Reference of the Animal Care Committee). 

Research laboratories and Animal Care and Veterinary Service facilities are inspected by the Animal Care Committee, by a veterinary inspector in accordance with the Animals for Research Act and by the Canadian Council on Animal Care.

The ACC also develops and approves relevant policies and procedures, and monitors ongoing work. The ACC works with all concerned, including the uOttawa senior administration to ensure that high standards are maintained at all levels.

Before the Animal Care Committee (ACC) approves animal use:

  •  the research for which animals are to be used must have been found to have scientific merit
  • the teaching for which animals are to be used must have been found to have pedagogical merit

The ACC approves all animal use for research or teaching following reviews of:

  • full, new protocols for new instances of animal use
  • amendments to existing protocols as needed
  • annual renewals of all ongoing protocols (a new protocol is required after 3 renewals)  

The ACC:

  • reviews and approves the vast majority of protocols during its monthly meetings
  • delegates the approval of minor amendments to protocols to the Office of Animal Ethics & Compliance
  • allows for executive approval of certain protocols (including review and approval by the ACC Chair or a delegate, a veterinarian, a community representative and the Director of Animal Ethics & Compliance), but this is exceptional and is only done where urgent considerations warrant it – please contact Marie Bédard

Animal use protocols, amendments, and renewals are prepared in Topaz. For assistance with any part of this process, please contact the Animal Ethics and Compliance team.

Scientific/pedagogical merit

Scientific merit for research projects involving animals

If your research project has been found to have scientific merit by an agency that funds research based on independent, expert peer review (e.g. CIHR, NSERC, etc.), please include this information in your animal use protocol submission in Topaz.

If your research project has not yet been subject to this type of review, please fill out the Scientific Merit Form and send it to the Assistant Dean, Research and Special Projects of the Faculty of Medicine, uOttawa through the Administrative Assistant of the Research Office. The Assistant Dean will provide the findings of the peer review to you and to the uOttawa Animal Care Committee.

Pedagogical merit of teaching involving animals

Please include the information relative to the faculty or departmental pedagogical review of your course in your animal use protocol submission in Topaz.

Protocol Review Process

The ACC is divided into two Protocol Review Groups (PRGs), which alternate from month to month to review protocols. Each PRG includes the Chair or his delegate, the ACVS Director/University Veterinarian, 2 community representatives, 2-3 scientists, technical support staff representatives, an Office of Risk Management representative, a Clinical Veterinarian and the Animal Ethics & Compliance (AEC) personnel.

The ACC approves protocols for a maximum of 4 years, with annual renewal submissions required for ongoing approval. After three annual renewals, the protocol must be replaced with a new one. Renewal notifications are sent to researchers and any requested delegates via email.

Any changes to an approved protocol (including changes in staff or students, location, procedures, animal species or strains, drugs, drug administration, etc.) require an amendment be submitted and approved prior to beginning the new work. Instructions on filling out an amendment are available here.

Minor amendments to protocols (increases of animal numbers of less than 20%, procedural changes that do not impact animal welfare or the protocol significantly and changes in personnel (that are or will shortly be trained) or minor administrative changes are approved by the AEC personnel on behalf of the ACC. Minor procedural amendments are checked by a veterinarian to ensure that they are in fact minor and appropriate.

Researchers are asked to submit their new protocols and renewals via Topaz three weeks before the monthly ACC meeting, and amendments (other than minor) are submitted up to 1 week prior to the ACC meeting. Researchers are provided with active support from AEC and veterinary personnel to submit appropriate protocols. Monthly meeting dates can be found here.

Protocol submitted

Step 1
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The AEC team and veterinarians will review animal protocols and contact the researcher with suggested changes prior to Committee review, as needed.

Step 2
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The protocol is assigned for full committee review. All applications are reviewed during a designated review period. 

Step 3
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ACC discussion

The protocol is carefully reviewed to ensure it is compliant with policies and SOPs and upholds the highest animal welfare standards.

Step 4
Check mark

ACC decision

  • Approved: animal use may begin (as long as appropriate space, equipment and staffing are available)
  • Approved with conditions: conditions are set by the PRG, forwarded to the research team by AEC personnel and followed up on by the AEC and Animal Care and Veterinary Service (ACVS) personnel
  • Approved pending further information: there are some comments/questions to clear up before approval, as agreed on by the PRG. These are forwarded to the researcher by AEC personnel - the protocol is only approved once the comments/questions are answered to the satisfaction of AEC and veterinary personnel, on behalf of the ACC
  • Refused: the reasons for refusal are forwarded to the researcher and a better solution, with an appropriate protocol, are sought through active support to the researcher