Animal Use in Science

Major advances in the health of humans and animals can be attributed to research using live animals. As an institution, the University of Guelph supports the principle that animals may be used in science only where necessary and where there are no alternative means that will produce the same results to benefit the health of humans and animals.

The University of Guelph has a long history of conducting innovative, multidisciplinary research with partners at other universities, government, and from the private sector. Through partnerships with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food the university plays a key role in research and teaching in the life sciences and agriculture. With a broad range of species, from laboratory rodents to farm animals, fish and wildlife, the University of Guelph has one of Canada’s largest and most versatile animal care and use programs. The University continues to be on the leading edge of animal-based science, the training of highly qualified personnel, and the promotion of welfare and health advancements for animals and humans through research and teaching.

Ethical Considerations and the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction, Refinement)

The University of Guelph is thoroughly committed to the care and well being of all animals in its research and teaching programs. The University strongly endorses and adheres to the principles espoused by the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC).

With each proposal to use live animals in science at the University of Guelph, Principal Investigators must present a detailed description of the proposed use in the form of an Animal Utilization Protocol. This includes considerations regarding basic health and functioning of animals, possible adverse effects and strategies to reduce these effects, and a depiction of management strategies in place to allow animals to express natural behaviors. An ethical review committee, the Animal Care Committee, evaluates and approves all animal use at the institution. This ethical review balances costs to animals with expected benefits to animals and humans to reach a decision regarding what animal-based work should be allowed and under what conditions. 

At the University of Guelph, the tenet of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction, refinement) is applied to all proposed uses of animals in science. The 3Rs are widely accepted ethical principles that serve as the cornerstone to guide researchers, educators and administrators in the ethical use of animals. The CCAC describes the 3Rs in the following way:

“Replacement refers to methods, which avoid or replace the use of animals in an area where animals would otherwise have been used. Reduction refers to any strategy that will result in fewer animals being used. Refinement refers to the modification of husbandry or experimental procedures to minimize pain and distress.”

For more information on the 3Rs, animal welfare, and good animal practice in science, please visit the 3Rs Microsite.

Reporting Concerns Related To Animal Care and Use 

The University invites open discussion on all topics surrounding the use of animals in science. At any time, members of the community may email Animal Care Services at with questions or concerns.

The University of Guelph is committed to ensuring that all animals receive appropriate treatment and care at all times. Any member of the university community who is aware of any perceived violations of the Animals for Research Act or the University of Guelph Animal Care Policy and Procedures is obligated to report them. The anonymity of persons reporting concerns will be maintained. Concerns can be reported to the Vice President of Research, the Assistant Director of Animal Care Services (Dr. Anna Bolinder,, or the Chair of the Animal Care Committee (Dr. Beverley Hale,