Use of animals in precollege education

The AVMA encourages the use of alternatives to live animals for precollege classroom instruction. While the AVMA recognizes that exposure to animals may engender interest and excitement in children for science, this must be balanced with optimizing the well-being of animals that may be used. Many of the same goals can be accomplished through use of other instructional devices, including video, web-based tutorials and study sets, mock physiology datasets, plastinated and preserved specimens, and observational field studies or trips to zoologic or aquatic facilities.

When alternatives to live animal use cannot meet the intended instructional goals, pertinent standards must be followed that protect the welfare of animals being used. Noninvasive and observational uses of animals are encouraged and uses that cause any pain or more than minor and momentary distress should be prohibited. Schools or school boards should develop a committee to review the use of animals in instruction or science projects and include a review of the following items:

  • Justification for live animal use, including discussion of alternatives considered and rejected,
  • A detailed description of the types and numbers of animals to be used,
  • A discussion of pedagogical merit for live animal use,
  • And a and a detailed description of what will be done with the animals, including transportation, daily care, and disposition.

A specific and knowledgeable instructor should take primary responsibility for animal use and ensure that animals are well cared for on a daily basis during their time in the educational program. Veterinary care must be provided to animals as needed and consideration should be given to the risk of exposure to zoonotic disease or allergens for students.