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The USDA's APHIS is Seeking Public Comment on a Petition



WASHINGTON, March 31, 2015—The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking public comment on a petition received from an animal welfare stakeholder requesting amendments to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations. As authorized by Congress, and delegated by the Secretary of Agriculture, APHIS enforces the Animal Welfare Act. The AWA requires, among other things, the humane handling, care, treatment and transportation of certain animals by dealers, research facilities, exhibitors, operators of auction sales, carriers, and intermediate handlers.
 
Currently, the AWA requires registered research facilities to appoint an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) which is comprised of a minimum of three people and is required to perform certain functions to ensure that the facility is in compliance with the AWA. One of these functions is to review all proposed activities involving animals that occur at the facility, as well as any significant changes to ongoing activities. If research is going to involve procedures that cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to an animal, the regulations require that the researchers submit a proposal to the IACUC that includes a written description of the methods and sources used to determine that alternatives to those procedures were not available.
 
The petition requests that APHIS define the term “alternatives,” clarify the existing definition of “painful procedure,” and then establish standards governing the consideration of alternatives at registered research facilities.
 
This notice was published in yesterday’s Federal Register. Consideration will be given to comments received on or before May 29, 2015. Please send your postal mail or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. APHIS-2014-0050, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. To submit a comment using the Internet, go to the Federal eRulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=APHIS_FRDOC_0001-1757
 
Comments are posted on the Regulations.gov website and may also be reviewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th St. and Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call 202-799-7039.

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