Scientific research is linked in many areas with animal experimentation, especially where complex interactions in the whole organism are investigated and no animal-free methods are (yet) available. In the ethical treatment of laboratory animals, the 3R principle (reduce - refine - replace) is of particular importance at the University of Fribourg.
Each animal experiment requires a specific authorization issued by the cantonal veterinary office and, depending on the constraints on the animals, is examined beforehand by the cantonal commission for animal experimentation. In the same way, all laboratory animal husbandries must be reported to and approved by the cantonal authorities.
The Animal Welfare Officer is a veterinary professional (veterinarian) who is independent from biomedical research and reports directly to the Dean’s office at the Faculty of Science and Medicine and who promotes the 3R principle in all areas of laboratory animal science.
Tasks of the animal welfare officer
Consultation and support of scientists
- Planning and performing of animal experiments according to the 3R principle: examination of applications for the authorization of animal experiments before submission to the cantonal authorities (veterinary office); inclusion of the 3Rs in the planning and support for the implementation in the experiment
- Support with the submission of applications and annual reports as well as the administration of authorizations
- Implementation of current knowledge in laboratory animal science and veterinary medicine for optimal experimental conditions (anaesthesia, analgesia, surgeries, monitoring, humane endpoints etc.)
- Coordination and collaboration between facilities.
Education and training of researchers and animal care staff
- Verification of compliance with mandatory education and training concerning working with laboratory animals
- Information to staff on courses offered
- Organization of internal training
- Coordination of education and training in collaboration with institutions providing courses (mainly Swiss Network on Education in Laboratory Animal Science and courses accredited by the Association of Swiss cantonal veterinarians VSK).
- Compliance with legislation in animal facilities
- Performing animal experiments according to the authorization
- In this context, the Animal Welfare Officer is independent from the research groups and an expert contact for the cantonal veterinary office (Amt für Lebensmittelsicherheit und Veterinärwesen LSVW)
- Veterinary care of laboratory animals
- Interface function with the veterinary authorities in all areas of animal experimentation and animal facilities:
LSVW (cantonal veterinary office Fribourg)
FSVO (Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office)
- Information to the scientists about the deadlines for submitting applications for animal experimentation to the cantonal authorities
- Forwarding of relevant information from institutions and authorities in Switzerland and abroad in the field of laboratory animal science (e.g. Swiss society for laboratory animal science SGV, Institute for laboratory animal science LTK, Réseau des animaleries lémaniques Résal, FSVO, etc.)
- Collaborations, exchange of knowledge and information with the animal welfare officers from other institutions (universities, ETH, industry) in the Swiss AWO network and other related specialists in Switzerland and abroad
- Collaboration with the SAFN (Swiss Animal Facility Network), 3RCC (Swiss Competence Center 3RCC) etc...