Membre de la SCNAT

Le SGV promeut la science des animaux de laboratoire, la protection de ces animaux et les considérations éthiques dans les expérimentations animales. Ces buts sont atteints grâce à l'organisation de cours de formation et par le transfert d'information auprès de la communauté scientifique.en plus

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What is an AWO?

Requirements and Responsibilities of AWOs in Switzerland

In 2018, the Swiss Animal Welfare legislation was updated and since then requires that every institution, in which animal experiments are conducted, must name a designated animal welfare officer (AWO) (Art.129 TSchV). While almost all institutions already had animal welfare officers way before the legislation was updated, it now clearly defines the requirements and responsibilities of an AWO.

Requirements (Art.129b; see below):

In order to be accredited as an AWO by the authorities, an applicant must have a university degree in the life science field and a proven track-record of in-vivo experience of at least 3 years. In addition, the candidate must already be accredited as an animal experimenter by the Swiss authorities and must have passed a special course for in-vivo study directors (e.g. LTK Module 2 / FELASA C). Thus, it is guaranteed that only qualified and well experienced candidates can take over the role of an AWO.

Responsibilities (Art. 129a; see below):

An AWO has two major responsibilities. First, the AWO has to ensure that the application form for an animal experiment is complete before it can be submitted to the cantonal veterinary authorities. Second, the AWO has to ensure that the application for an animal experiment contains all required information to assess the indispensable need according to article 137 of the Animal Protection Ordinance. The indispensable need is then judged by the respective cantonal veterinary office and the cantonal committee on animal experimentation.

Additional tasks, such as inspections of animal husbandies and animal experiments may be assigned to animal welfare officers by their institutions.

Links to the legislation:

Here are the links to the official legal texts of the "Animal Protection Ordinance" from the federal authorities. The legal texts are only available in three official languages of Switzerland:

German: Tierschutzverordnung (TSchV)*

* for other languages, please follow the same link and change the language in the top right corner

Tasks of an AWO

Besides the responsibilities described in the legislation (see above), all AWOs take over many other tasks to support the humane treatment of laboratory animals in Switzerland. Below is a list of sample duties performed by Swiss AWOs in academia and industry.

  • Official contact person for the institute to the cantonal authorities
  • Attendance of cantonal inspections at the institute
  • Supporting researchers in all aspects of their in-vivo work. Examples are:
    - Onboarding of new researchers of the institute in terms of their in-vivo roles and responsibilities
    - Advising researchers about how to fill in the application form for a license to perform animal experiments
    - Supporting researchers in their obligation to fullfil the continuing education requirements (4 days in 4 years)
  • Reviewing of applications (new, supplementary and renewal) for animal experiments and submission to the authorities (Form A)
  • Reviewing of animal number reports from an application and submission to the authorities (Form C)
  • Performance of internal lab visits / animal facility checks to ensure compliance
  • Promotion of the 3Rs