Does accreditation by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC) ensure greater compliance with animal welfare laws?

J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2015;18(1):82-91. doi: 10.1080/10888705.2014.948625. Epub 2014 Aug 30.


Accreditation of nonhuman animal research facilities by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International (AAALAC) is widely considered the "gold standard" of commitment to the well being of nonhuman animals used in research. AAALAC-accredited facilities receive preferential treatment from funding agencies and are viewed favorably by the general public. Thus, it bears investigating how well these facilities comply with U.S. animal research regulations. In this study, the incidences of noncompliance with the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) at AAALAC-accredited facilities were evaluated and compared to those at nonaccredited institutions during a period of 2 years. The analysis revealed that AAALAC-accredited facilities were frequently cited for AWA noncompliance items (NCIs). Controlling for the number of animals at each facility, AAALAC-accredited sites had significantly more AWA NCIs on average compared with nonaccredited sites. AAALAC-accredited sites also had more NCIs related to improper veterinary care, personnel qualifications, and animal husbandry. These results demonstrate that AAALAC accreditation does not improve compliance with regulations governing the treatment of animals in laboratories.

Keywords: AAALAC; accreditation; animal welfare; oversight; research.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Accreditation
  • Animal Husbandry / standards*
  • Animal Welfare / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Animal Welfare / standards*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Laboratory
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Laboratory Animal Science / standards*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Research
  • United States
  • United States Department of Agriculture