Quality animal research is based on quality animal care and use. This is achieved by coordinating several key personnel and activities, and implementing appropriate animal care and use procedures. Areas to be covered include institutional responsibilities in terms of personnel (resources and training); occupational health and safety; oversight and ethical review process; animal environment, housing and management; veterinary care; and physical plant. All these components together will be the institutional animal care and use program. The first thing to do to implement the right animal program is to review in a systematic manner all components of the program currently in place and identify potential gaps. The AAALAC International Program Description template, freely available from the AAALAC website (http://www.aaalac.org/programdesc/index.cfm) provides a very simple and useful self-evaluation tool to do this, as it encompasses all necessary animal program areas. Once gaps are identified, a scheduled plan for corrective actions can be established. But achieving the right animal program cannot be a single person task. Cooperation from and coordination with several others in the institution is needed: management; animal care personnel; IACUC or equivalent oversight body (ethics committee, animal welfare body…); research team; health and safety personnel; maintenance service; or quality assurance unit (if existing). That will be the key to success.
Examples of typical findings on all different program areas identified during AAALAC site visits will be described, along with the expectations AAALAC has for those same areas. Quality animal studies depend on quality animal care and use, which can be only achieved by a systematic self-evaluation and implementation process.