Study in Progress

Assessment of the Care and Use of Dogs in Research Funded by or Conducted at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

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Statement of Task

In response to a request from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will appoint an ad hoc committee to review the care and use of dogs in research funded by the VA or carried out in VA facilities regardless of funding source, for the purpose of advancing science and the understanding of how diseases affect the health of veterans. Specifically, the committee will:

1. Explore current and anticipated research questions directly related to the VA's mission to determine if dogs [rather than non-rodent (excluding nonhuman primates) or rodent species or non-animal alternatives] are or will continue to be necessary for relevant basic and translational research. The committee will:

a. Make a determination as to whether dogs are or will continue to be necessary for any type of research directly related to the VA's mission. If it is determined that they are necessary, describe the unique biological/immunological characteristics of dogs that currently make it the necessary animal model for use in these types of research;
b. Provide recommendations for any new or revised scientific parameters to guide how and when to use dogs for research rather than non-rodent (excluding nonhuman primates) or rodent species or non-animal alternatives;
c. Explore contemporary and anticipated future alternatives to the use of dogs in this research and determine how these could be part of a strategy to develop and/or use alternatives in support of the agency's mission.

2. Identify ethical standards and state-of-the-art practices supporting the care, use and welfare of dogs in research;
3. Evaluate VA's current review and oversight practices for the extent to which they meet the recommendations, standards and practices identified above, and make a separate determination as to whether changes in VA practices are recommended.

The committee will produce two reports. The first report will include conclusions and recommendations in response to the first two components of the Statement of Task while the second report will be informed by the first report in providing conclusions and recommendations that address the third component of the Statement of Task.