During this reporting period the Advisory Board continued to have an international composition. The terms of some Board members expired during this period, resulting in a change in Board membership. A gap analysis of the scope of expertise of the Board members was conducted and it was determined that additional expertise in the area of alternatives would be important to include. Therefore, Dr. Alan Goldberg, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing was added to the Advisory Board.
As noted in previous annual reports, the Pet Care International Animal Welfare Advisory Board functions as an independent body that advises the Management within P&G Pet Care, the Pet Health & Nutrition division of Procter and Gamble, on the care and welfare of animals used in Pet Care study programs. This will be achieved by:
- Implementation of the 3R’s, including:
- Recommendations of best practices in animal housing, care, use, methodology and husbandry;
- Conducting periodic assessments of P&G Pet Care systems, programs, and practices.
- Reviewing and advising on the P&G Pet Care Animal Studies Policy.
Responsibility for consideration of the recommendations derived from the Board, assuring animal welfare and ensuring compliance with national legislation, rests with P&G Pet Care.
The Advisory Board held three two-day meetings and five conference calls during this period.
Unannounced site visits of the Pet Health & Nutrition Center (PHNC) were conducted. Three announced tours of the PHNC were also performed by Board members.
The Advisory Board participated in the Second Annual Pet Care Academy hosted by PHNC, providing a summary of the Board's activities since its inception and the responses made by P&G to the Board's recommendations.
The Board devoted a significant amount of its time to taking a translational approach to ethical topics encountered by the PHNC staff. To that end, the subject of quality of life and retirement indicators were discussed by the Board and PHNC staff with the result that a "decision tree" was developed by the PHNC staff with input from the Board to assist in determining when an animal would be retired or adopted out of the program. In addition, alternatives to current study methods were explored, focusing on reduction of the number of animals used and non-animal alternatives (e.g., in vitro tests). Refinements of animal housing and study methods continued to be promulgated. Specifically, additional urine/fecal collection units were installed to facilitate cageless, social housing of cats on study. Automated feeding units were added to further advance this objective. In the interest of having positive external influence, the Board also encouraged disseminating information regarding a refinement of a feline blood collection technique that was developed by a PHNC staff member. To that end, a poster presentation was made at select meetings and video clips developed of the procedure to facilitate sharing the information.
With the paradigmatic shift to internalizing studies, breeding colonies of dogs and cats were established by PHNC to meet study needs. The Board provided guidance and suggestions to ensure healthy and behaviorally well-adjusted animals are produced from this effort. Similarly, the Board reviewed partnering organizations that assisted PHNC in adopting out dogs and cats retired from studies to ensure the commitment PHNC made to the animals' destiny is maintained. The Board also encouraged PHNC to perform standardized follow-up assessments of animals post-adoption which was subsequently initiated.
The Board encouraged PHNC to evaluate ways of enhancing its relationship with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as both have a commitment to animal welfare. Past President of the AVMA, Dr. Bonnie Beaver, was subsequently invited to the PHNC to meet with staff and the Advisory Board. Potential intersections of interest were identified for future collaboration. In addition, actions being taken to establish an AVMA recognized specialty in animal welfare were discussed, with PHNC offering to be a part of that process in whatever way the organizing committee deems appropriate.
Highlights of Program Changes Based on Advisory Board Recommendations:
With the cessation of collaboration with external sites for extending the Pet Care nutritional research, several program adjustments were made to the PHNC program. Highlights include the commitment by Pet Care to ensure high quality care for each animal in program either through entry into the PHNC retirement program for the life of the animal or into the Pet Care adoption program where a good home is found for the animal, with appropriate follow-up of the adoption to ensure the animal's welfare needs are met. The Board finds Pet Care's commitment to each animal's "destiny" is highly commendable. The creation of a "decision tree" system that incorporates, among others, input from a clinical veterinarian and the Pet Care behaviorist to aid in the timing of transitioning an animal off study and into retirement or adoption is a key element of the Destiny program and helps to ensure continuity in each animal's welfare. Of particular note was the post-adoption follow-up by survey, with plans to further extend this follow-up with subsequent surveys of the adopting owners.
Other highlights include efforts to increase communication with external audiences through oral and poster presentations at conferences, and the related strategic communications plan.
The Advisory Board was also impressed with the canine obedience training program implemented at the PHNC. This program appeared to be enriching for both the animals and the staff.
The Board Notes Additional Significant Corporate Animal Welfare Approaches Taken by P&G Pet Care:
The commitment to further expand the use of automated technology.
The ongoing efforts to socially house cats and dogs.
The actions taken to enhance communication of program innovations to the public as well as scientific and veterinary audiences.
The ongoing commitment for having a behaviorist on staff and for using the additional expertise of consulting behaviorists.
The full implementation of the in-home studies initiative.