A new Agriculture Department law requiring all universities to adhere to stringent dog and primate care guidelines has only resulted in minimal changes at the University in its housing and care practices because of its already strict self-imposed requirements. Although the requirements will not affect the University dramatically, the law will require more extensive documentation by the University as well as closer supervision. And while the new rules specify basics that are normally associated with animal care -- cage size, exercise, food -- primates must have a mandatory programs for "social enrichment." Some of the suggested social enrichment and psychological stimulation methods include varying their diets from day to day between fruits such as bananas and pineapples, playing music, caging them in groups of two, and simulating their natural environment. The University must still design individualized social enrichment programs for the primates. These programs are sent to the Agriculture Department and are kept on file and regulated. University officials stressed that these sanctions -- which were passed last month -- will not require great changes, and are similar to the one the University put into effect in 1985. "There was a major break in the mid-1980's [in animal care rules]," Vice Provost for Research Barry Cooperman said. "This is just a fine tuning." "The published changes are not major because procedures were appropriate before," said Aron Fisher, chairperson of the Institute of Animal Care and Use Committee. "They do not require a major change in money." University officials said they were not expecting any more major changes to occur within the next several years. "I don't think that rules are going to get more and more restrictive because the guidelines are in place now," Cooperman said. "I don't foresee large changes in the future." Both the cost and time factors are greater for researchers as a result of the new sanctions, but will not go completely into effect until 1994. "It is clear that the cost and time [for scientists] is increased, but we feel obligated to treat the animals well," Cooperman said. "It is a balance of forces." And some officials said that the more comfortable the animals are, the more accurate experiments will be. "Any time that animals are more content, the research will be more valid," University Laboratory Animal Resources Director Harry Rozmiarek said. Many researchers contacted this week said that although humane animal care is crucial, these new rules do not better their treatment. "They should be written in such a way that animals are not neglected or mistreated," said Associate Neurology Professor Joel Greenberg. "I don't believe that the rules are necessarily in the best interest of the animals. Regulations should be looser and less specific."Comments powered by Disqus
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