Standard on Reporting and Veterinary Care for Research Animals


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Standard on Reporting and Veterinary Care for Research Animals



The standards and procedures described below provide guidance to all researchers and animal handlers to ensure that sick animals are identified and adequate veterinary care is provided to all animals utilized in our research program.


This Standard applies to all personnel engaged in the use and care of research animals.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("UNC-Chapel Hill" or "University") 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.


Researchers working with animals on an approved protocol must notify the Division of Comparative Medicine (DCM) of animals experiencing unanticipated illnesses or injury. The DCM veterinary staff will provide veterinary care/oversight for all animals used in research at the UNC-Chapel Hill. This provision also extends to clinical abnormalities believed to be the result of experimental manipulations unless these conditions, and the appropriate therapeutic interventions, have been defined and approved by the IACUC Animal Care and Use protocol review process. If the abnormalities are part of the expected phenotype of the animal, this should be described in the protocol and approved by the IACUC. If DCM veterinarians recommend permanent procedural changes that are not described in the approved protocol, the investigator must submit the revised regimen for review and approval by the IACUC. It is expected that lab members respond to DCM communications regarding animal health questions and follow through with humane endpoint deadlines in a timely manner.

DCM should be notified in a timely fashion regarding deaths that are not expected based on the IACUC protocol and those that do not constitute normal colony attrition so that appropriate vet care, diagnostic work-up, and necropsy (when necessary), can be provided.

The DCM veterinary staff can be reached by calling the contact number provided in every animal facility. Please use the phone number for non-emergency cases. For veterinary emergencies, call the DCM veterinary services pager (also posted in every facility and enter a contact phone number.

DCM Employee Identification of Sick Animal:

  1. Place a green Health Check on the animal’s cage and enter the specific cage card number and identified problem into the Vet Care computer system.
  2. If the sick animal requires immediate veterinary care, the LAT calls the veterinary technician office at 919-966-2906 or pages the veterinarian or veterinary technician on-call at 919-216-1235.

Researcher Identification of Sick Animal:

  1. Place a green Heath Check card (located in the black card file box or in a drawer in the cart in the animal room) on the cage with the health problem noted on the card.
  2. Directly contact the veterinary technician office or notify the LAT responsible for that room. If a researcher is unable to contact either of these in person the researcher should call the veterinary services pager rather than leaving a voicemail message. The veterinary technician or LAT will then enter the information into the Vet Care computer system.
  3. If it is an emergency, the researcher must page the veterinarian or veterinary technician on-call. The researcher should supply the following information: condition of the animal, investigator name, building name, room number, and the rack where the animal is located.

Once alerted, a veterinary technician will examine the animal in question according to Veterinary Services SOP and contact the laboratory to discuss diagnostic and treatment plan. This contact may be by phone using the lab number provided on the room contact sheet, by email using the list of laboratories who have provided their lab email, or verbally if the responsible person is in the room. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to address animal health concerns.

Please do not remove the green or red Vet Care cards from the cage. It is the responsibility of the Vet Services clinical staff to assess, resolve the animal case, and remove the cards from the cage unless the animal is removed by laboratory personnel for euthanasia or experimental use. Once the animal is euthanized or used experimentally, the laboratory personnel performing the procedure should date and initial the card and place the card in the designated location within the animal room.

REMEMBER, the red Vet Care card is a veterinary medical record, please do not dispose or remove this medical record from the animal room.


Requests for exceptions to this Standard must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC.

Related Requirements

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
Animal Health Division of Comparative Medicine 919-962-5335
IACUC Protocol Office of Animal Care and Use 919-966-5569

Important Dates

  • Effective Date and title of Approver: 12/20108; UNC IACUC
  • Revision and Review Dates, Change notes, title of Reviewer or Approver: Merged ‘Veterinary Care for Research Animals’ 10/15/2003 with ‘Standard Operating Procedure for Reporting Sick Animals’ 07/09/2010 on 12/2018; UNC IACUC

Approved by: UNC IACUC

100% helpful - 1 review


Article ID: 132208
Thu 4/8/21 9:26 PM
Wed 2/14/24 11:53 AM
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.
10/18/2023 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.
10/18/2024 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
09/16/2019 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Research-Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee