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Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

Guideline #2

Policy on Prolonged Physical Restraint 

1. References:  National Research Council. 2011. Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals: Eighth Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/12910.

2. Purpose/Scope:  The purpose of this policy is to provide information to principal investigators who require the use of physical restraint for research purposes.

3. Physical restraint, the use of manual or mechanical means to limit some or all of an animal’s normal movement, is often necessary to meet research objectives. 

3.1   Restraint may be used for the purpose of examination, collection of samples, drug administration, therapy, or experimental manipulation.

3.2   Restraint devices should not be considered normal methods of housing and must be justified in the animal use protocol.

3.3   In small laboratory species, restraint devices are those such as rodent or rabbit restrainers designed for short procedures, or manual restraint.

3.4   In agricultural species, restraint devices include stocks, head gates, stanchions, halters, squeeze chutes, or snares.

4. Prolonged physical restraint is restraint that is typically >15 minutes. Restraint that lasts longer than 15 minutes needs to be scientifically justified, described in detail in section VI.E. of the IACUC form, and requires an AV consult (please reference guideline #22).

4.1   Restraint with sedation or general anesthetic drugs as approved by the IACUC is not considered prolonged restraint.

5. When considering use of restraint methods or prolonged restraint in research animals, the following guidance (from the Guide, 8th ed.) needs to be considered by the researcher and the IACUC:

5.1   Alternatives to physical restraint should be considered

5.2   Restraint duration should be the minimum needed to accomplish research objectives.

5.3   Animals should be given positive reinforcement training to adapt to restraint devices. Animals that fail to adapt should be removed from study.

5.4   Animals should be observed at appropriate intervals, as determined by the IACUC, while in restraint devices.

5.5   The purpose of the restraint and duration should be clearly explained to research and husbandry personnel.

5.6   All restraint devices need to be suitable in size and design for the animal being held. They need to be in proper repair and operated appropriately to reduce the level of distress or discomfort.

6. Supersedes:  IACUC Guideline #2: Routine and Non-Routine Restraint 07/21/2011.