Transportation of Animals (IACUC)
Boston University (BU) is committed to observing Federal policies and regulations and AAALAC International standards for the humane care and use of animals. This policy describes how animals are transported from or to other institutions (excluding vendors) and within or between buildings on campus. Any exceptions must be approved in writing in advance by IACUC Chair or designee; designees must be used in situations where the primary approval parties have a conflict of interest.
This policy is applicable to all persons responsible for conducting research, teaching, training, breeding, and related activities, hereinafter referred to collectively as “activities”, involving vertebrate animals at or under the auspices of Boston University.
Transportation of animals is often necessary to accomplish research goals. Maintaining animal health status by avoiding exposure to potential pathogens, preventing injury, and reducing stressors (e.g., extreme temperatures, odors, excessive noise, vibrations) during transport is important for maintaining the safety and wellbeing of the animal.
Transporting animals requires heightened attention to detail to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the animals as well as personnel in areas where the animals must pass. Human health concerns include allergies of animal origin, injury from escaped animals, and exposure to hazards such as microorganisms, chemicals, or radioactive materials.
Animals transported in their home cage will retain the cage card holder and cage card including ID on their cage card. Animals transported in a temporary container will retain their cage card for placement on the new cage.
When transporting animals, entries and exits used by the public should be avoided. Every effort must be made to use a side door and avoid the main, front entrance.
Materials transported to or from BU should be pursuant to a Material Transfer Agreement. Depending on the material and its use, it may be subject to other University or regulatory requirements or an existing or required Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
For any use of BU-owned or -leased vehicles, drivers should review and comply with Driver Eligibility and Becoming an Authorized Driver sections of the BU Automobile Safety Guidelines. It is recommended that the Guidelines document be reviewed in its entirety prior to travel.
BU’s insurance is not intended to cover use of personal vehicles. Any employee who uses a personal vehicle for BU business should be reimbursed per the BU Travel and Expense Policy.
One-Way Transport Between BU and Another Institution (Excluding Vendors)
- Designated BU ASC vehicles and drivers or commercial carriers (land and air travel) must be used to transport animals to or from another institution, including transport to or from the airport.
- The BU ASC is responsible for all packing of animals to be transported to another institution. Animals not packed by ASC must be inspected for proper packing and approved by ASC prior to transport.
- The PI, in consultation with the ASC staff, is responsible for completing USDA Certificate of Health documents for interstate and international transportation and the Carrier shipping documents for air transportation.
Transportation to Another Animal Room or Animal Facility on Campus
- BU ASC performs ALL transport between animal rooms or animal facilities.
- When animals need to be transferred between animal facilities or animal rooms on campus, the Principal Investigator (PI) or Designated Research Staff should complete the request in AOps at least three (3) business days BEFORE animals must be moved.
- BU ASC staff are responsible for packing and transferring the animals to the new animal room or animal facility. BU ASC staff are responsible for unpacking the animals and placing in housing in the new location.
- BU ASC staff are available to transfer animals Tuesday, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, excluding holidays or declared emergencies.
Transportation Between Animal Rooms and Laboratories or Core Facilities within Campus
- PIs and Designated Study Staff are responsible for transporting animals to and from animal rooms, laboratories, and core facilities. Transport may also be arranged with ASC.
- Details of the transport must be described in an approved IACUC protocol and specific for the species, experimental use, and lab space. This should include, at a minimum, the locations the animals will be moved to, the required equipment and containers to move the animals, and a rationale for the required movement.
- The cart enclosure must be opaque and provide adequate ventilation.
- Animal(s) must be taken directly to their destination, with no stops along the way.
Transportation of Rodents from Barriers to Laboratories of Core Facilities within Campus
- PIs and Designated Study Staff are responsible for transporting rodents from barriers to laboratories and core facilities. Transport may also be arranged with ASC.
- Transport from the Barriers is ONE-WAY ONLY; animals cannot return to Barriers.
- Disposable cages, designated containers, and home cages are available for use for one-way transport to laboratories or core facilities for terminal-use animals.
- All transport containers must be sealable to prevent animal escape, opaque to obscure visibility of animal or be in a secondary container that is opaque and escape-proof.
- Non-vented plastic containers (non-shipping crates) are not allowed for animal transport if animal holding is for more than a 30-minute duration.
- BU ASC animals destined for an approved non-barrier housing room after study require submission of the request in AOps at least 3 days before needed.
Special Precautions When Transporting Animals
- Animals on ABSL-2 Studies: When transporting between animal rooms and laboratories or core facilities within or between buildings on campus, animals on ABSL-2 studies must be transported within secondary leak-proof, shatter-proof containers. The containers must be labeled “ABSL-2” and with the universal biohazard symbol.
- Animals treated with chemical agents, toxins or radioisotopes: When transporting between animal rooms and laboratories or core facilities within or between buildings on campus, animals treated with hazardous chemicals, toxins, or radioisotopes must be transported inside a leak-proof, shatter-proof secondary container. The crates must be labeled “Biological Hazard” or “Chemical Hazard” or “Radioisotope.” Extra precautions may be required per Environment Health and Safety (EHS) protocol or laboratory-specific standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the chemical agent, toxin, or radioisotope in question.
- Rodents from a room where sentinel surveillance has identified a murine pathogen present: Transport and exposure of other rodents must be minimized. Each case must be handled on an individual basis in collaboration with the BU ASC veterinary staff.
- Animals transported between buildings: Assure that animals are covered with an opaque drape or comparable material so that animals are not visible and animals are not stressed by external activities. Assure that animals are protected from environmental extremes, including temperatures (e.g., greater than 85 degrees or less than 45 degrees) or precipitation (e.g., rain or snow), during transport as extreme weather conditions cause stress that could affect research results or animal survival if the animal is compromised.
- Decontamination of Carts used for transport of animals: All carts must be sprayed down after each use with appropriate disinfectant. This should include all surfaces plus wheels. Minimum contact time for the chemical to deactivate the agent must be followed.
- The disinfectant chosen should be the one required for use in the animal room and appropriate for the agents in use. Alcohol-based disinfectants are not an appropriate choice for the decontamination of animal transport carts due to the rapid evaporation and short contact time.
Rodent Transport Requirements
- Rodents must be transported in their own home cage covered with filter top or in a clean home cage with filter top or in a disposable cage. Cages must be covered with a secondary opaque covering.
- When rodents are to be returned to the animal room the same space on the shelf and rack should be reserved with a “Space Reservation Card/Animals Will Return” (available in animal rooms).
- Reverse the water bottle or, when necessary, remove so the movement will not cause the cage to flood. When the water bottle is removed, it should be transported and replaced upon arrival. Ensure the water flows and that there is not an air bubble trapped in the sipper tube.
- Secure each cage top to prevent escape using 1” white adhesive tape, plastic cable ties or a heavy-duty rubber band. White adhesive tape, rubber bands, opaque cart covers are provided by the BU ASC on a cart at animal room entry/exit points.
- One or two mouse cages may be carried. Transporting more than two cages requires use of a cart. The cart must have an edge to prevent cages from slipping over and falling on the floor. Cages designed to be stacked may be stacked up to 3 cages high provided they are secured with straps, plastic wrap, cart side panels, or a cover to prevent movement during transport.
- Cover all cages with a designated cart cover designed to fit around the cart securely.
- Rodents must be unpacked as soon as possible and within an hour of arrival at the destination. The secondary opaque covering must be removed. The individual responsible for the transport must assure that all rodents are well and that no injury has occurred during transport.
- Cages used in laboratories and study areas must be returned by PI or research staff to the designated cage-wash area for sanitation.
- Dirty barrier cages, plastic shipping crates and plastic containers are to be returned to the animal facility and left at designated sites at or in the vicinity of soiled cage wash rooms. Dirty cages, crates, plastic containers MUST NOT reenter or be returned to any Barrier facility.
The Animal Welfare Program and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee are responsible for overseeing implementation of and ensuring compliance with this policy.
Related Policies and References
- Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals
- Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare Regulations
- Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals: Eighth Edition
- Review and Approval of Materials Submitted to the IACUC
- Obtaining, Transporting, Importing and Exporting Animals in AOps
This policy replaces the Transportation of Rodents and Transportation of Non-Rodents Policies last approved by the IACUC in July 2018.
Effective Date: 3/14/2023
Next Review Date: 3/13/2026