The Animal Care Program is a service unit within the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. The unit is headed by the Farm Manager, Clint Burgher, M.S. The program has 9 full-time support staff caring for animals in 25 buildings over some 150,000 sq. ft. of floor space. The buildings include barns, feed-storage areas, and the farm shop where machinery is stored and maintained. See Animal Units and Facilities for additional information on the organizational structure of animal care.
The program is registered with the United States Department of Agriculture and adheres to the regulations set forth in the USDA Animal Welfare Act. It also has an animal care and use assurance statement filed with the Public Health Services Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW). The Rutgers University Animal Care and Facilities Committee and the Vice President for Research provide internal regulatory oversight. In accord with the requirements of AAALAC and through the University Animal Care and Facilities Committee (ACFC), the program abides by the following regulations: the Animal Welfare Act, NIH-PHS Policy, the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, and the Guide for the Care and Use of Animals Used in Agricultural Research and Teaching. In summary, these regulations require:
- That all vertebrate animals used in research or teachings be covered by an ACFC approved animal care and use protocol.
- That all staff, students and faculty working with animals are trained in the appropriate care and use of animals. At Rutgers, this is performed by a requirement to attend an animal care and use orientation seminar conducted by the Office of Comparative Medicine Resources.
- That all staff, students and faculty working with animals must participate in the University Occupational Health Program.
- That animals are cared for in a humane manner which includes the adequate provision of feed, water, bedding, shelter, cage and pen space and any other sanitation, cleaning or environmental provisions as may be required in accordance with their use and housing situation (i.e., environmentally controlled laboratory setting vs. the indoor/outdoor farm setting).
- That animals are observed daily and veterinary care is available at all times when animals are found to be sick or injured. An on-call veterinarian is required 365 days per year.
- That all facilities are inspected twice a year to ensure that animals are healthy, cared for properly, and that they are maintained in a clean, well-ventilated environment. Results of these inspections are forwarded to the appropriate federal authorities (Public Health Service, AAALACi, USDA).
- That animal facilities are maintained and repaired in an expedient manner to ensure for the health and well being of the animals.
- That policies are in place to ensure that open channels of communication are available for the reporting of animal related concerns.
- That animal care staff are trained in the appropriate tasks associated with the care and husbandry of species in their area of responsibility, in addition to biosecurity and safety issues in the workplace.
The Animal Care Program director and supervisory staff are also actively involved with assisting faculty and students with their research planning and as an information base for animal related needs through consultation and dissemination of knowledge and resources. The Animal Care supervisory staff are also actively involved with teaching the Animal Sciences practicum program offered through the Department of Animal Sciences. Students are assigned to work within the animal facilities along side the supervisory staff with an emphasis on 'hands-on' learning.