IACUC Policy on Physical Restraint and Immobilization
Restraint is the use of manual, mechanical, or chemical means to limit some or all of an animal's normal movement for such purposes as examination, collection of samples, and drug administration. Typically, animals are restrained for brief periods, usually minutes, in most research applications. Often animals can be trained, through use of positive reinforcement, to present limbs or remain immobile for brief procedures.
Restraint device should be suitable in size, design, and operation to minimize discomfort or injury to the animal. The ACUP must include a description of the device, the duration of restraint for review by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).
Prolonged restraint (usually an hour or longer) should be avoided unless it is essential for achieving research objectives. Approval by the IACUC requires scientific justification, a description of the restraint device, the duration of restraint, monitoring procedures and methods to minimize animal distress (e.g. acclimation to the device). Restraint of agricultural animals, when part of normal husbandry procedures and in accordance with “Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching” (FASS, 3rd Edition, January 2010) will not be considered prolonged. These are standard methods in the agricultural setting and animals are adapted to and tolerate these husbandry methods. If this same manner of restraint will be used for research studies, the details should be included in the Animal Care and Use Proposal (ACUP).
Guidelines for restraint of any duration in any species
- Restraint devices should not be used simply as a convenience in handling or managing animals.
- When restraint devices are used, they should be specifically designed to accomplish research goals that are impossible or impractical to accomplish by other means or to prevent injury to animals or personnel.
- The period of restraint should be the minimum required to accomplish the research objectives.
- If possible, animals placed in restraint devices should be given training to adapt or acclimate to the equipment and personnel.
- Provision should be made for observation of the animal at appropriate intervals.
- The presence of lesions, illnesses, or severe behavioral change often necessitates temporary or permanent removal of the animal from restraint. If such a situation occurs contact the Attending Veterinarian for animal veterinary care and assistance.
- Personnel performing the restraint must be familiar with the equipment and appropriate method of restraint for the species
The policy and guidelines are based on recommendations from The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 2011 (NRC, 8th edition) and the “Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research or Teaching (FASS, 3rd, Jan. 2010).
Accepted by the IACUC: July 2011