Since the summer, Kwantlen Polytechnic University has officially had an animal care framework for students and researchers who involve animals in their studies.
The Animal Use and Ethics in Teaching and Research policy and procedures, which had been in development for years before their approval, goes over the roles and responsibilities KPU students and staff have when involving animals in their research.
This includes what the animal care committee does, and how animals are treated in teaching and further research. It also details the animal care review process, how the research is reported, and the consequences of violating the policy.
The purpose of the framework is to “ensure the proper care, welfare, and ethical treatment of all animals used in teaching and research at any KPU campuses, off-campus sites, or field locations.”
The policy is in the works of being certified by the Canadian Council on Animal Care, an organization that is responsible for establishing and maintaining ethical guidelines for the care and use of animals for scientific and academic purposes across the country.
KPU biology instructor and chair of the animal care committee, Layne Myhre says the policy is in the implementation phase. This means reviewing the policy protocols and research proposals from a few courses offered in the biology department, the farrier science program, and the Tsawwassen First Nation Farm school. It can take up to a year to be officially certified by the CCAC, he says.
“[KPU] grew very naturally from a small institution to a larger and larger institution. We’ve reached a point where there is an appetite for teaching programs, research programs that involve more animal use,” says Myhre. “It’s a positive change for us.”
Once the protocols and proposals are approved, the committee will then submit an application to the CCAC to visit the programs across the KPU campuses and make suggestions if needed.
Myhre says he hopes the visit will happen before the end of this year.
“I’m looking forward to the process,“ he says. “It’s really cool to ask ‘how can we do better on an ongoing basis?'”
At KPU, animals are involved in a small number of biology classes that work with fish in a circulating water aquarium system, and programs that work with animals for agricultural use.
“… all animals at KPU have always been well-cared-for (we’ve always followed CCAC guidelines), we now just have the ability to get the CCAC certification for increased reporting, funding opportunities, and guidance on care, plus internal accountability through the KPU Animal Care Committee,” Myhre wrote in an email to The Runner.
The policy could give the university more options for undertaking research that involves animals, such as being eligible for project grants, student research opportunities, and potential future graduate programs. Myhre says it also expands sustainability research options and gives the public information about what’s going on within KPU.
“Overall, this is so positive,” says Myhre. “It ensures that animal care at [KPU] is of the highest level, and it serves both our research and teaching that is sustainability-focused.”