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Guidelines of the University of Cologne on the Handling of Animals in Research and Teaching

On 12 February 2019, we adopted the following guidelines:

Guidelines of the University of Cologne on the Handling of Animals in Research and Teaching

The obligation to protect animals from pain, suffering or damage naturally also applies to the field of science and research. Within the framework of our constitutional-compliant regulations, Article 20a of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany obliges us to protect the natural foundations of life and animals. The Animal Welfare Act and the Laboratory Animal Welfare Ordinance therefore rightly define strict standards for the professional qualifications of persons who carry out animal experiments or are responsible for the care of animals and for applying for and carrying out animal tests.

The University of Cologne works at the highest level in research and teaching, both nationally and internationally. Both basic biomedical research and translational and applied research are an integral part of this research. Despite the efforts to reduce the number of animal tests to a minimum, areas animal tests in these areas cannot yet be completely dispensed with.

The University of Cologne supports its scientists in their work and feels particularly committed to animal welfare. As a result, it is regularly confronted with a difficult balancing act , which involves different questions: What is the expected value added to knowledge for research and thus for society? After careful consideration of the value added to knowledge and animal suffering, is an attempt essential and ethically justifiable? Are alternative methods available that would allow the test target to be achieved in whole or in part?

The University of Cologne has given itself these guidelines, which apply to all members of the University of Cologne who have direct or indirect contact with animals in research and teaching. Its aim is to ensure the responsibility of the members of the University of Cologne for their own actions, for the controlled conduct of animal tests, compliance with legal regulations and an open and transparent information policy. The guidelines reflect the self-image of the University of Cologne and serve to provide concrete principles in dealing with animals in research and teaching:

a) All members of the University of Cologne are to treat animals as living beings in a responsible and dignified manner. They are committed to animal welfare and the underpinning laws.

b) Ethical and moral responsibility cannot be delegated. Each member of the University of Cologne is therefore responsible for their actions and, in addition to the scientific quality of their work, must also take care of the welfare of the animals entrusted to them.

c) Animal testing shall be limited to what is strictly necessary. Animals are only used in research and teaching if it is ethically justifiable in view of the desired results and if there are no alternatives. The researchers have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to weigh up the gains of knowledge for the benefit of humans and animals and the potential suffering for animals that this entails.

d) Strict regulations and legislation define the conditions for authorization and requirements for the conduct of animal tests as well as the conditions for keeping laboratory animals. The University of Cologne considers these requirements to be essential in the field of animal testing and strongly supports their compliance and monitoring. In order to ensure this, advice from the independent and autonomous animal welfare officerof the University of Cologne is mandatory when applying for animal tests. In addition, they serve as contact persons for all animal welfare issues. All legal and ethical standards are monitored by the independent bodies listed below: Animal welfare officers and animal welfare committee of the University of Cologne, veterinary office of the city of Cologne, licensing authority (State Office for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection, LANUV) and externally staffed animal welfare commissions according to Section 15 Animal Welfare Act with representatives of the animal welfare organizations. The animal welfare officers and the veterinary office regularly carry out checks on animal husbandry and animal testing in order to ensure compliance with animal welfare requirements. These regularly take place unannounced.

e) Violations of legal and ethical standards will not be tolerated. Every animal is treated with respect. Disregard for animal welfare requirements, in particular the animal welfare-appropriate handling of animals is not tolerated and leads to consequences under labour law.

f) The university has an open and transparent communication policy and advocates an objective dialogue on the use of animals in scientific research and teaching. In addition to providing legally required information to the authorities, the university proactively informs the public, thereby promoting ethical awareness of the topic among employees, students and the public.

In this sense, the University of Cologne also supports the Basel Declaration.

Official announcement of the UoC from 12 February 2019