Animal Welfare Body (AWB)
An AWB is an essential component in any breeder/supplier/user establishment. It is responsible for ensuring the welfare of animals in the establishment and promoting the 3Rs (reduction, replacement and refinement). The AWB places a crucial role in:
- Advising scientists and staff on animal welfare and the conduct of projects,
- Monitoring projects to identify opportunities for further application of the 3Rs,
- Implementing best practices,
- Advising on re-homing, when feasible.
The AWB facilitates the sharing of organs and tissues from euthanised animals and provides records to the HPRA, detailing advice provided to scientists or staff and the decisions made based on that advice.
Further information on the role of the AWB can be found on the working document on Animal Welfare Bodies and National Committees. The HPRA is responsible for inspecting the arrangements and outputs for each AWB.
The AWB must comprise the following members:
- Person(s) responsible for the welfare and care of animals within the breeder/supplier/user establishment.
- A scientific member if the establishment is involved in the use of animals.
The AWB should receive advice from the designated veterinarian or a suitably qualified expert. It may or may not be a subgroup of the breeder/supplier/user establishment’s ethics committee.
Culture of care
The AWB is pivotal in driving a culture of care and showing leadership in animal welfare. The key factors in fostering such a culture within an establishment include:
- Attitude: Recognising that animals are sentient beings and accepting the responsibility of ensuring optimal standards of animal welfare. All key personnel must demonstrate appropriate behaviour and attitude towards animal research.
- Establishment support: Ensuring that the establishment has adequate facilities and systems in place to maintain optimal animal welfare standards.
- Shared responsibility: Managers and designated officers are responsible for ensuring that individuals fulfil their obligations to animal welfare.
- Proactive approach: Taking the initiative to improve standards rather than reacting to problems when they arise.
- Compliance: Understanding and embracing the animal welfare legislation.
- Empowerment: Respecting, listening to, and supporting training officers, animal care staff, veterinarians and compliance officers,
- Communication: Encouraging people to voice concerns, which should be positively addressed. Constructive interaction and communication between researchers and animal care staff should be encouraged.
- Monitoring developments: The AWB plays a key role in caring for animals, designing, conducting and developing projects, and ensuring that personnel understand and meet expectations.
By nurturing and implementing a culture of care, AWBs can ensure the highest standards of welfare, leading to more ethically sound and scientifically robust research outcomes.