IACUC Policy #11: Adoption of Laboratory Rabbits

Date approved September 9, 2022 

Personnel Responsible

Personnel responsible are the Attending Veterinarian, the Animal Care Facility Director, and the IACUC

Additional Training Required

  1. None

Background or Explanation

  1. The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (1) and the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (3) discuss the termination of research animals at the conclusion of the research project.
  2. However, the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (1),the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (3), the PHS Policy (2), and the Animal Welfare Act (4) are silent on the issue of private adoption of rabbits for pets after a study has been completed or the animals are no longer required for research. The 9 CFR recordkeeping regulations and official policies offer institutions the option of developing and implementing an adoption policy. The Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) is supportive of the concept of adoption. This policy is also in congruence with the 2019 position statement issued by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Adoption of Rabbits Upon Conclusion of Research Project

  1. In certain cases of nonterminal research use of animals, adoption into a private home shall be encouraged by the Michigan Tech IACUC. Adoption is done in consultation with the principal investigator and orchestrated through the Animal Care Facility  Adoption is at the discretion of the Principal Investigator (PI) and Attending Veterinarian. Due to sensitivity of animal research, no direct inquiries concerning adoption from the general public will be considered. Only employees or students of Michigan Tech are eligible to adopt rabbits.


For a rabbit to be eligible for adoption the following conditions must be met:

  1. The animal must have not been subjected to a research major surgical procedure. Routine veterinary surgeries are exempted.
  2. The animal must not have been administered any drugs other than FDAapproved human or veterinary drugs or food supplements or pharmaceutically compounded veterinary drugs. If any FDA approved drugs have been administered to the animal the drug should be disclosed to the potential adopter.
  3. Transgenic or immunosuppressed animals cannot be adopted.
  4. In cases where animals require specialized permits, it is the responsibility of the adoptee to obtain the permit.
  5. Animals which have been exposed to infectious agents in course of the study protocol are not eligible for adoption.
  6. Animals must be adopted as personal or family pets only and may not be sold.
  7. Animals must not be used for food (human or animal consumption).
  8. The animal must be in good health and of acceptable behavior.
  9. The adopter is responsible for any future medical care/support as may be required.


The following set of procedures must be followed:

  1. The PI must first indicate that the animal is not needed for research at Michigan Tech, state that they have no knowledge of any fact that would make the animal inappropriate for adoption, and recommend the animal be offered for adoption. If the PI is aware of any conditions that may have an impact on the animal’s suitability as a pet, this must be communicated to the potential adopter.
  2. If applicable, the animal may be offered for transfer to other PIs with an IACUC approved research protocol. If after 10 days no researcher indicates a desire to use the animal, the animal will be considered for the adoption program.
  3. If an individual indicates an interest in adopting an animal, the Facility Director, IACUC Chair, or Attending Veterinarian will meet with that individual and conduct an interview to determine the reasons for the adoption and the person’s willingness and ability to provide for the animal’s welfare (See Appendix I). Potential adopters will be screened by the AV for their suitability, knowledge of the care of the type of animal, and qualifications. The AV has the discretion and authority to deny any adoption requests.
  4. An Animal Adoption Agreement should be filled out by the PI transferring animal ownership to the new owner. A copy of the adoption agreement should be kept by the PI, the AV, and submitted to the IACUC.
  5. The animal will be vaccinated (as appropriate) and possibly sterilized prior to adoption at the expense of the Investigator. The adopter will be educated about the animal’s health status, and will be provided a written record of the animal’s health history. 
  6. For the transfer of rabbits, USDA  transfer Form 7020  (“Record of Disposition of Animals other than Dogs and Cats”) must be completed. Forms can be found at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/library/forms/pdf/aph7020.pdf
  7. On the day the Animal Adoption Agreement is signed, the animal should be removed from the Michigan Tech facility. Once the animal leaves the facility it is the possession of its new owner; the University will no longer be responsible for the animal, its care or any damage it may cause.


  1. IACUC – iacuc@mtu.edu
  2. Contact information for ACF Staff and the ACF Director: acf-l@mtu.edu or 906- 487-2878

Related Information 

  1. PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals
  2. The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 8th Edition
  3. USDA Policy #3 Veterinary Care


  1. Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources (U.S.). 2011. Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
  2. National Institutes of Health (U.S.). Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare., United States. Public Health Service. 2002.
  3. Public Health Service policy on humane care and use of laboratory animals. Bethesda, MD (6705 Rockledge Dr., Bethesda 208927982): Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, National Institutes of Health, Dept. of Health and Human Services.
  4. United States., United States. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. 2005. Animal Welfare Act and animal welfare regulations. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
  5. Emory University Policy 376 Adoption