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Disposition of Research and Teaching Animals

This policy serves to provide ethical, practical and humane methods for the disposition of university-owned animals when they are no longer required for research, testing or teaching use. Regardless of the particular method of disposition, the disposition must be approved on the IACUC protocol the animals are on.


Animals remaining at the end of an approved protocol may be removed in the following ways:

  • They may be euthanized in accordance with current American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals.
  • They may be transferred from one active protocol to another active approved protocol. This requires prior approval by the facility or unit in the form of an animal transfer request, as well as approval of animal transfer in the applicable IACUC protocols. Only animals used in non-invasive or minimally invasive experimentation and animals used in invasive or surgical research/teaching are eligible for such transfers. Please note, to transfer animals that have been used in invasive or surgical research/teaching, the approved IACUC protocol these animals are being transferred to must list the invasive or surgical research/teaching these animals have been involved in, and their reuse must be justified.
  • They may be adopted. The adoptable status of an animal must be determined by the University Attending Veterinarian or AV designee at the respective facilities. Additionally, individual facilities may have specific adoption policies, guidelines or SOPs that must be followed.
  • Food animals (livestock) may be sent to Livestock Sales or Production Plant disposition in accordance with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. Only experimentally naïve agricultural animals or agricultural animals used in non-invasive or minimally invasive agricultural research or teaching may be sent to the market for human consumption. Food Animal Residue Avoidance Database (FARAD) and FDA regulations apply. With regard to animals used for biomedical research, only control animals may be sold to market, pursuant to transfer from a research protocol to a facility holding/maintenance protocol. Biomedical experimental animals may not be sold.
  • They may be returned to privately owned or researcher-owned care, respectively, if the client or researcher originally donated these animals to the study.
  • They may be transferred to a suitable institution for research or teaching. The receiving institution must have a scientific or teaching purpose for the animal(s) and have an IACUC-approved protocol in place. A copy of the receiving institution’s approved protocol should be sent to the NC State IACUC office prior to the animal transfer for verification of approval. Other information may be requested depending on the transfer arrangement.
  • They may be loaned to another suitable institution. In some loan situations, ownership of the animals will be transferred to the receiving institution and they will be financially responsible for all aspects of animal care and use. There may be instances in which NC State grantees will be financially responsible for some of the aspects of animal care and use. Please note that depending on your funding source, additional information may be necessary to approve the loan of animal subjects. NC State will maintain ownership of the animals throughout the loan period until the animals return to an NC State facility. If NC State maintains ownership of these animals, the IACUC must ensure appropriate care and use at the lending facility. Based on the nature of the loan, further information will be requested prior to approval of this disposition method.

Other methods of disposition can be requested by way of contacting the IACUC office and providing specific information for consideration.

Note: Only experimentally naïve animals or animals used in non-invasive or minimally invasive research/teaching may be sold for research, teaching or testing. Animals used in invasive or surgical research/teaching may only be transferred to another NC State approved protocol if reuse is justified on the protocol to which the animal will be transferred.

Animals Not Eligible for Adoption

  • Genetically modified animals (Transgenics)
  • Venomous animals
  • Potentially invasive species
  • Endangered or legally protected species
  • Wildlife
  • Animals that the university attending veterinarian (UAV) — or designee at the respective animal facility — judges to be unsuitable for adoption

Financial Responsibility

The financial responsibility for all animals will remain the responsibility of the principal investigator or their department until final disposition (e.g., euthanasia, transfer or adoption) is accomplished unless other arrangements have been made with your department or the facility.