The AVMA supports the adoption of healthy, post-study, research and teaching animals into long-term, private homes as companion animals through the use of adoption programs developed and managed by research institutions. The AVMA encourages research institution adoption programs because they can provide the individualized attention needed by each animal moving from a laboratory home into a private home. Research institution adoption programs typically fall under the purview of an oversight body (e.g., an IACUC) and must also comply with federal regulations or policies that protect the welfare and health of research animals.
The AVMA believes the following factors should be considered when developing a research institution adoption program and determining an animal's potential for adoption:
- The research institution adoption program must take into consideration all applicable federal regulations and state and local laws related to the transfer of animal ownership.
- The research institution's Attending Veterinarian, as the person responsible for the health and well-being of all laboratory animals used at the institution, must be involved with the development and oversight of the program. The involvement of the IACUC or another appropriate committee, is encouraged.
- Each adoption must require approval of the Attending Veterinarian or designee, and the Attending Veterinarian or designee must have the discretion and authority to deny adoption requests.
- Each potential adoption must include expert veterinary guidance. The animal's suitability for adoption as a companion animal should be based upon the animal's species, health status, and behavior.
- When appropriate for the animal's health and welfare, the institution should vaccinate and spay/neuter animals prior to adoption.
- Adopters should be educated about the animal's health status and other pertinent information during the review process and should be provided with a written record of the animal's health history upon transfer.
- Adopters should be willing and able to accept legal and financial responsibility, in writing, for the life-long care of the animal, including veterinary care.
- Adoption programs that collaborate with third parties (e.g., shelters) should consider whether the third party's adoption program is consistent with the institution's mission and values.