An appropriate knowledge about animals is essential to ensure the respect of their welfare
Each person working with animal must follow specific education courses and participate to continuous training.
Qualifying and continuous education courses are organized in Switzerland by the "Swiss network in Education for Laboratory Animal Science" composed of ResAL (Réseau des Animaleries Lémaniques) and LTK (Institut für Labortierkunde). Duration and contents of these courses are defined by a federal ordinance and are accredited by federal and cantonal veterinarian authorities.
Courses are attended by experimenters, animal caretakers, facilities managers, study directors, animal experimentation directors, animal welfare officers and veterinarians.
In order to ensure the follow-up of continuing education, it is necessary to transmit the certificates of participation to the DEA (specific to her/his institution) responsible for their submission in Animex.
Multiple roles in animal experimentation
Inside each institution, animal experimentation is firmly regulated and the different functions are well defined by the law:
Director of animal experimentation (DEA): Responsible for all applications and authorizations from the institutions. Receives license applications, ensures that all methods described in the experimental protocol respect the 3R principle, animal protection and Swiss legislation. It also ensures that the experimental facilities comply with the law and respect animal protection. Transmits requests for authorization to the cantonal veterinarian or her/his delegate.
Director of experiment: Responsible for the monitoring of experimented animals and their welfare. Defines the scientific project and the experimental plan. Submits the application for authorization to the DEA and receives the decision from the cantonal veterinarian or her/his delegate.
Experimenter: Responsible for the monitoring of experimented animals and their welfare. Carries out experimental procedures and works under the responsibility of the director of the experiment.
Animal facility manager: Responsible for housing conditions and animals housed. Ensures that the equipment and working procedures respect animal welfare and legal requirements.
Animal facility veterinarian: Responsible for monitoring the health and welfare of animals in animal facility. Advise scientists on the most respectful and up-to-date procedures.
- Animal keeper: Responsible for daily cares and welfare of animals housed in animal facility. Performs certain procedures in collaboration with the veterinarian or experimenters.
- Animal welfare officer (AWO) or Animal welfare officer: Responsible for the application of the 3R principle and animal welfare. Ensures that the procedures used are the most up-to-date and appropriate ones. Advises researchers on possible alternative methods.
- Cantonal Veterinarian office (SCAV): Responsible for the application of the law and ordinances. Issues licenses, monitors experiments and inspects animal facilities. Receives acceptance or rejection of authorization applications from the cantonal commission and makes the final decision. The cantonal veterinarian may be assisted by a delegate.
- Cantonal committee for animal experimentation (CCEA): Composed of members from diverse animal protection associations, an ethicist and a veterinarian as well as representatives of academic institutions and private companies. Receives and evaluates license applications. Ensures that the procedures described respect legislation and animal welfare and that the justifications provided are bringing out a fair balance of interests. Transmits its decision to the cantonal veterinarian or her/his delegate. Takes part in the control of experiments and the inspection of animal facilities.
- Federal office for health and veterinarian affairs (OSAV): Responsible for public health, food safety, animal health, animal protection and animal import/export. Responsible for federal legislation (proposal of laws, ordinances and directives as well as the updating of existing ones). Sets the framework and conditions for all animal experiments and can appeal against cantonal decisions.
- Federal Veterinarian committee: Composed of members from academic institutions, private companies and cantonal veterinarian institutions. It advises the OSAV on all procedures involving animal experimentation and animal welfare in Switzerland.