TRACSS: Teaching and Research Animal Care Support Service
The Teaching and Research Animal Care Support Services (TRACSS) is responsible for the day-to-day care and housing of all live, college-owned animals involved in teaching and research projects. TRACSS also provides the policies and guidelines to assure compassionate, progressive animal care and use while ensuring compliance with federal law and regulatory agency policies (e.g., NIH, USDA).
Additional TRACSS policies, guidelines, and resources are available for college members on the college intranet.
TRACSS is a team of highly trained individuals dedicated to the humane care and use of teaching and research animals. Our strength and success are a result of our commitment to maintain the highest-quality animal care program and to serve as a resource center for investigators and instructors. We strive to provide a standard of care that is second to none and that results in the best possible quality of life for all college-owned animals. TRACSS adheres to the four R's of research: Reduction, Replacement, Refinement, and Responsibility.
Assurance of the animal care programs
TRACSS and Virginia Tech have a long-standing commitment and dedication to ensuring a high-quality animal care program, which entails active participation in federally required and voluntary oversight programs to ensure the highest professional standards.
- Oversight by Virginia Tech's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which regulates animal care and use, as well as compliance with regulations and guidelines. All VA-MD Vet Med personnel who handle animals must complete tri-yearly training addressing their roles and responsibilities.
- Voluntary participation in the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, International (AAALAC), which provides an independent peer review of internal programs and processes and helps us benchmark our quality of care and responsible animal use in biomedical research and teaching at Virginia Tech. VA-MD Vet Med was awarded full accreditation by AAALAC International on Oct. 24, 2008 (AAALAC accreditation #001123). AAALAC conducted a site visit in July 2011, and issued a report to the college dean in September 2011.
- Oversight by Virginia Tech's Environmental Health and Safety Services (EHSS) with regards to occupational health and safety and our compliance with EHSS regulations and guidelines. All VA-MD Vet Med personnel who handle animals or their products must enroll in the Occupational Health Assurance Program, which is updated yearly.
- Adherence to the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals as published by the Commission on Life Sciences of the National Research Council.
- Adherence to the Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals for species not addressed in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
- Compliance with the guidelines provided by U.S. Government Principles for the Utilization and Care of Vertebrate Animals Used in Testing, Research, and Training.
- Inclusion in the Assurance Statement provided by Virginia Tech to the National Institutes of Health's Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, which determines our commitment to quality care and use principles in animal-facilitated research and teaching.
- Engagement with the Public Health Service (PHS) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, which is applicable to all PHS-conducted or PHS-supported activities involving animals.
- Registration as a federally approved research facility with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Inspection Service, Animal Care. As a registered institution, we are subject to unannounced inspections by federal veterinarians who review animal care, animal welfare, and adherence to federal regulations.
- Utilization of the educational expertise provided by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) to ensure progressive care and welfare training for TRACSS staff and VA-MD Vet Med researchers.
- Employment of licensed veterinarians and veterinary technicians for direct veterinary treatments and animal care.
- Ongoing training of all animal care staff with the goal of ensuring a base of quality animal care while focusing on continually improving care operations.