Requirements for Operation and Maintenance of Guillotines

As per the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia, equipment used to perform decapitation must be maintained in good working order and serviced on a regular basis to ensure sharpness of blades. The Guidelines also mentions that those responsible for the use of guillotines in euthanasia must ensure that the personnel who perform decapitation has been properly trained to do so and are monitored for competence.

  1. Therefore, all personnel performing live animal decapitation must be properly trained and supervised by the PI (or a well-trained designee). It is required that all animals be sedated or anesthetized before decapitation unless precluded by scientific considerations and specifically justified to, and approved by, the IACUC.
  2. When in use, a properly maintained guillotine of appropriate size will decapitate the animal cleanly with minimal force.  Before each use of a guillotine, it should be checked for rust, lack of visible nicks or other damage to the cutting edges and cleanliness. The operator should ensure that the action is smooth with no perceptible binding or resistance. Since there are varying sizes of guillotines available, the equipment chosen should be appropriate for the size of the animal. The IACUC also recommends testing the guillotine for sharpness on suitable materials before its use on live animals. A sharp blade will cut the test material cleanly with minimal force without dragging it between the blades or showing signs of sticking.
  3. If the equipment is found to NOT be in good working conditions, alternative euthanasia procedures or guillotines must be used.
  4. Periodic Maintenance: As is the case with anesthesia vaporizers, the IACUC requires that guillotines be serviced no less than once per year. However, in some cases sharpening may need to be performed more frequently to maintain proper function.  Any company or individual may be chosen for maintenance or blade resharpening. The Animal Resources Center can be contacted for the names of potential vendors familiar with the UT campus.
  5. Documentation: A log must be maintained and stored in close proximity to the device which identifies the date of last servicing.