Standard on Adoption of Companion Animals


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Standard on Adoption of Companion Animals



The standards and procedures described below provide guidance to all researchers and animal handlers for the adoption process of companion animals at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) when they are no longer appropriate for research or teaching purposes.

Scope of Applicability

All personnel and investigators involved in research with companion animals. The standards described in this document apply to the adoption process for all companion animals previously engaged in research.

The UNC-CH Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) expects that anyone involved in animal work at the University will comply with this Standard. Requests for exceptions to this Standard must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC.


The IACUC strongly encourages all investigators to pursue adoption of companion animals as pets when they are no longer appropriate for research and teaching. 

However, the IACUC recognizes that adoption cannot be accomplished for all companion animals, nor is it deemed appropriate for animals with certain health conditions or those exposed to experimental conditions that could potentially jeopardize that animal’s health status or ability to thrive in a new environment.

It is the responsibility of Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) and investigators working with companion animals to determine whether adoption is feasible (e.g., adoption may be appropriate for one healthy animal in a litter, but not for the entire litter).

  • The decision regarding adoption of specific companion animals should take into consideration:
    • the current health status of the animal
    • the likelihood of the animal developing specific health conditions consistent with its genetic background
    • its behavioral phenotype (e.g., aggressive behavior)
    • its exposure to various experimental conditions that may compromise its health or behavior
  • All species are eligible for adoption except those which are venomous, genetically modified, endangered and/or non-human primates.
  • In cooperation with investigator input, DCM is responsible for selecting and evaluating potential adopting owners, and for ensuring that prospective owners complete an UNC-CH Animal Adoption Agreement form, or comparable agreement, detailing their responsibilities as a potential owner.
  1. For adoption to occur, the following conditions must be met:
    1. Parties seeking approval to adopt an animal must agree to care for the animal in a manner which is generally accepted as appropriate for a companion species.
    2. The adopting party must agree not to use the animal as a food source or sell the adopted animal to markets for meat consumption.
  2. Adoption must be listed as a method of disposition on the approved IACUC protocol from which the animal will be removed.
  3. DCM will ensure that all non-rodent animals to be adopted are appropriately neutered.
  4. All animals to be adopted will receive a DCM Veterinary physical examination prior to adoption.:
  5. Species specific requirements:
    1. Rodents: Normal physical examination, no evidence of disease
    2. Dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets: neutered before adoption, normal examination with no evidence of disease, and all applicable vaccinations
    3. Other animals: If applicable, neutered before adoption, normal examination with no evidence of disease and all applicable vaccinations
  6. National Institute of Health (NIH) Guidelines do not allow for the field release of any animal that has been administered recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules unless an appropriate Federal agency has authorized such a release.
  7. NIH Guidelines state that grant funds issued through the NIH cannot be used to support the adoption process. Consequently, the IACUC strongly encourages investigators to secure other funds for the care of companion animals prior to initiating the adoption process. Investigators will be responsible for all housing and care costs for animals they wish to offer for adoption until placed in a new home. Investigators should consult with the IACUC, Environment, Health, and Safety, DCM, and/or UNC’s legal department in instances in which an adoption may be inconsistent with this policy.
  8. Animals will only be adopted if the adoption represents no threat to the public or animal health or welfare, or the integrity of the University.
  9. A UNC-CH Animal Adoption Agreement form or comparable document must be completed by the adopting individual and can be obtained from the Office of Animal Care and Use (OACU) or DCM.

For questions or concerns, please contact the Office and Animal Care and Use, 919-966-5569 or


Requests for exceptions to this Standard must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC and/or DCM Management.


University Standard: The minimum acceptable limits or rules used to achieve Policy implementation, enforceable by the IACUC.

Adoption: The process of taking responsibility for an animal previously engaged in research at UNC.

Companion Animal: A domesticated animal typically bred and raised with the purpose of providing human companionship.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

For more detailed guidance, please refer to the University Policy on the Care and Use of Vertebrate Animals for Research, Training and Teaching Purposes.

Contact Information

Contact Information Table
Subject Contact Telephone Email

Animal Health and Husbandry




IACUC Protocol



Important Dates

  • Effective Date and title of Approver: 10/08/2010; UNC IACUC
  • Revision and Review Dates, Change notes, title of Reviewer or Approver: 04/2018; UNC IACUC; 3/2019: added ‘or comparable document’.

Approved by: UNC IACUC

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Article ID: 132189
Thu 4/8/21 9:25 PM
Fri 5/19/23 1:37 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
10/21/2020 12:00 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Vice Chancellor
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
04/19/2023 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
04/20/2022 12:00 AM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
04/19/2024 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
09/09/2019 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Research-Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee