Federal Laws and Accreditation

Our many animal research programs are operated in careful compliance with oversight from federal agencies — often with multiple agencies exerting overlapping authority on a single study — and a raft of legislation and regulation.

Hundreds of federal animal welfare laws and regulations are available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act that regulate animal research. USDA veterinarians visit at least once each year to review in person all aspects of our animal research programs.

The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare monitors compliance with NIH policies on the treatment of animals in NIH-funded research, which include site visits and required review and approval of UW–Madison’s commitment to proper record-keeping, committee oversight and adherence to the federal government’s principles on care and use of vertebrate animals. The principles are expanded upon in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, published by the National Academy of Sciences.

Deficiencies noted by USDA and OLAW inspectors — or, as is often the case, self-reported to these agencies by our own researchers and animal care staff — can lead to closing of animal research facilities, suspension of specific studies, fines, loss of accreditation and loss of research funding.

The Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, is a private, voluntary organization that evaluates in person how well an animal care and use program meets and exceeds criteria of the “Guide.” AAALAC’s accreditation program indicates programmatic excellence, and includes a thorough in-person evaluation every three years. UW–Madison’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Graduate School, School of Medicine and Public Health, and Veterinary School are fully AAALAC accredited.