In Switzerland, each individual animal experiment and laboratory animal facility must be approved. The aim of this strict procedure is to protect animals from suffering constraint in a way that cannot be justified.
The legal requirements for the authorisation procedure for animal experiments and laboratory animal facilities are laid down in the Animal Welfare Act and the Animal Protection Ordinance (see "More information").
Each application is assessed and approved very carefully and on a case-by-case basis. Well-founded expertise is required for this assessment. Various bodies are involved in assessing animal experiments and granting authorisations, and these bodies also run checks on each other. Cantonal committees on animal experimentation, in which animal welfare organisations are also represented, play an important role. The authorisation process ensures that a harm-benefit analysis (constraint suffered by the animal versus benefit to society) is conducted in accordance with the criteria stipulated in the legislation.
In their application, the researchers explain why an animal experiment is necessary, outlining what the anticipated benefits of the experiment will be and to what degree the animals involved will suffer constraint. The conditions for keeping laboratory animals should also be identified in the application for a licence to conduct animal experiments. The cantonal committee on animal experimentation examines the application, clarifies any questions with the researchers and gives a recommendation: rejection, conditional acceptance (e.g. fewer animals must be used) or acceptance. The licence is issued by the cantonal veterinary office. Researchers can appeal against the decision. The FSVO then examines the cantonal veterinary office's decision and may request amendments. In the event of any complex or controversial issues, the veterinary authority can turn to the Federal Committee on Animal Experimentation. The period of validity of a licence to conduct animal experiments is limited to three years (Art. 141 AniPO).
Managing animal experiments: "animex-ch" online application
The animex-ch online application can be used to manage applications, authorisations, reports and announcements relating to animal experiments. It is aimed at researchers and authorities responsible for animal research in the cantons and the Federal government. The electronic processing of the complete authorisation procedure for animal experimentation facilitates administration of the compulsory training and continuing education of researchers, monitoring of animal experiments and creation of reports and annual statistics. It also facilitates management of the whole field of animal experimentation in Switzerland.
Requirements for laboratory animal facilities
Laboratory animal facilities must be approved by the cantonal veterinary office. They are regularly inspected. Separate minimum dimensions exist for laboratory animal cages. These dimensions are smaller than the minimum dimensions that apply to private establishments.
However, the animals must be cared for in a professional manner. Strict training requirements exist for animal carers. Relevant factors such as a healthy indoor climate must be permanently ensured by automatic systems.
Social animals must be kept together with animals of the same species, apart from in justified exceptional cases. For example, mice usually live together in groups of five. In experiments, it is often necessary to be able to clearly differentiate between the individual animals. Therefore, methods used to mark the animals, for example, are clearly prescribed. This should always be carried out in a way which is as humane as possible.
Last modification 22.01.2021