The objectives of SAALAS are:
- To promote the advancement of laboratory animal science for the benefit of both animals and man,
- To encourage and facilitate the exchange of scientific information in all fields of laboratory animal science,
- To foster co-operation between investigators and laboratory animal personnel for their mutual benefit,
- To actively promote education and training in laboratory animal science and technology and establish recognised standards of proficiency for laboratory animal personnel,
- To establish standards for laboratory animal facilities and for animal care,
- To establish guidelines for humane and ethical use of animals for teaching and research, and
- To co-operate with other organisations concerned with laboratory animal science, technology and animal welfare.
During the next few years Laboratory Animal Science began to prosper. No less than eight modern laboratory animal facilities were constructed and commissioned. A three-year teletuition course in Laboratory Animal Technology, initiated by SAALAS and presented through the Technikon RSA, got under way during 1981. The latter made a tremendous contribution towards the quality of laboratory animal husbandry and use in this country. During 1990 the National code for the handling and use of animals in research, education, diagnosis and testing of drugs and related substances in South Africa, came to pass.
Congresses and one-day symposiums, to which one or more internationally acclaimed guest-speakers from abroad were invited, were held on a yearly basis. Active membership increased to more than 200 paid-up members.
During 1989 a total of 31 South African laboratory animal facilities were listed. During the same year the MRC Laboratory Animal Unit started a microbiological monitoring program for laboratory animals.
At this stage most of the laboratory animal facilities in the country were either funded of subsidised by government. During the early 1990’s, this “unfortunate” situation through which animal facilities received their funding, started to exercise a downward swing on laboratory animal science as a whole. The change in government policy, from a financially supportive to a more market related policy where industry were held more and more responsible for research, also brought about a change in the financial situation of the majority of animal facilities in this country. Many changes took place whilst some institutions had to adapt to the changing situation.
Laboratory animal facilities had to start earning their own funds in order to cope with normal day to day expenditures. Some facilities had to close down, resulting in many researchers and Animal Technologists leaving the field of animal research. As some of them emigrated with a resultant loss of knowledge and expertise. Maintenance of facilities and equipment fell in arrears. The decline in job opportunities also led to a decrease in the demand for qualified personnel, with a subsequent discontinuation of the diploma in Laboratory Animal Technology by the Technikon RSA. More burning issues emanated from the decline of the past few years;
- The need for proper legislation that would regulate laboratory animal use.
- Establishing standards that will be internationally accepted.