Policy on Maintenance of Guillotines, Scissors and Shears

Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee
Sep 18, 2023 12:00 am

This policy describes the expectations for the care and maintenance of guillotines, scissors, and shears used for live animals in research, teaching or testing. Specifically, this policy addresses the institutional expectations related to the requirement that “equipment used to perform decapitation must be maintained in good working order and serviced on a regular basis to ensure sharpness of blades1”.

1 The AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2020 Edition (PDF available at: https://www.avma.org/sites/default/files/2020-01/2020-Euthanasia-Final-1-17-20.pdf)

  • Applicability

    This policy is applicable to all vertebrate animal activities conducted under the auspices of the University and applies to all locations under the purview of the U-M IACUC.

  • Glossary Definitions


    Term used to describe ending the life of an individual animal in a way that minimizes or eliminates pain and distress.

  • Policy

    Principal Investigators (PIs) are required to maintain blades (e.g., guillotines, scissors, or shears), used for euthanasia via decapitation, in clean and good working order to ensure a humane method of euthanasia in accordance with the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia.

    PIs must have blades sharpened or replaced, or evaluated at least annually or more frequently as needed, based on use and condition, to ensure the following criteria are consistently met:

    1. Blades must be free of rust, visible nicks, or other damage to the cutting edge and have no perceptible resistance that would prevent smooth operation, and
    2. Blades must always be able to decapitate rapidly to ensure death with minimal pain and distress.

    If the above criteria are not met, blades must not be used until serviced or replaced, and confirmed to be in good working order.

    PIs are required to establish a mechanism (e.g., a service log or “date of last service” tag) to document that the service/replacement/evaluation was conducted. Blades not in current use must be clearly marked (e.g., “not in use” or “do not use").

  • Compliance

    The provisions of this policy are under the direction and oversight of the U-M’s IACUC. The IACUC will, if necessary, suspend research or implement sanctions if policy infractions should occur.

  • Appendix A: Sharpening Services Request Form


For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of the Assistant Vice President for Research, Director of the Animal Care and Use Office at acuoffice@umich.edu or (734) 763-8028.