Animals at WSU

Discoveries made at Washington State University save and improve the lives of animals and humans alike. They also safeguard the environment. The research behind those discoveries sometimes involves animals.

Animal-based research comes with the responsibility to provide animals with the highest level of ethical and humane care. WSU takes that responsibility very seriously.

Why animals at WSU?


Animal research yields breakthroughs that benefit us all. For example, animal research has brought us life-saving treatment for diabetes, life support for premature babies, vaccines to prevent deadly and crippling diseases, and much more.

WSU research findings contribute to a better understanding of health problems in animals and humans. They have profoundly improved the quality and effectiveness of veterinary care, helping our animal friends live longer, healthier lives.


Animals can be critical for teaching life-saving skills. Educators at WSU also involve animals in lessons about animal care and in programs that foster compassion.

For example, undergraduates in animal sciences learn hands-on with a student-managed herd of dairy cows. The Pet Education Partnership teaches children how to treat animals with responsibility and empathy. Therapeutic horsemanship programs help children with disabilities build strength and confidence.


College of Veterinary Medicine

Advancing knowledge for animal care and educating future veterinarians

College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Bringing new insights to agricultural sciences and to the wellbeing of humans, animals, and the environment

Oversight and compliance

All WSU research involving animals adheres to the stringent requirements of federal law.

WSU involves animals in research when no other method of study would yield the scientific knowledge needed to address serious health and environmental problems. The University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) carefully reviews animal research proposals before studies can begin. It has the authority to stop a research program if the care or involvement of animals fails to comply with regulations.

WSU is committed to openly sharing information about its research involving animals and standards of animal care.

WSU animal care programs have earned accreditation from AAALAC International, a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science. AAALAC recognizes WSU among organizations worldwide that uphold global standards of animal care and ethics.

Reducing animals in research and teaching

When WSU considers proposals for involving animals in research and teaching, it follows principles that the scientific community worldwide knows as the “3 Rs”:

  • Replace animals with other options
  • Reduce the number of animals involved
  • Refine tests to minimize any distress

Whenever possible, WSU research employs alternatives to animals, such as cell cultures, tissue studies, and computer models. IACUC never approves animal research unless the scientist can first demonstrate why there is no alternative.

Biological and medical discoveries and technological advances may ultimately eliminate the need for animal research. We look forward to that time.


Find out more about animals at WSU

Explore answers to frequently asked questions.

Compliance hotline

If you suspect that a research program is not treating animals in compliance with ethical, humane standards, immediately call or email the compliance hotline: