It's expensive to be a member of AAALAC. The fees are based on the square footage of your research facility. It's not clear if that means the area of the animal facility or the entire facility. The initial application fee is $3,200 - >$11,200. The annual fee is $2,100 - >$7,400. But the costs of complying with AAALAC recommendations can be much, much greater.
A copy of the "streamlined" program description can be found here (pdf). Basically, they want to know what you are doing with the animals and how you are doing it. How the animals are being housed, food or water restrictions etc. Fine, no problem. Who is your veterinarian (more costs)? What is your research funding? Next they want to know about health and hazard risks to personnel. How this relates to the humane treatment of animals is beyond me, but ok, let's hire a safety officer (more expense). BTW, the safety officer will ALWAYS ultimately tell you that the safety of personnel is up to the principal investigator.
Why do AAALAC inspectors need to come into your research lab? Syringe and needle inventory? Why should they care what chemicals you have on your shelves? What does that have to do with the humane treatment of lab animals?
AAALAC has a "Council of Accreditation" made up of "highly accomplished animal care and use professionals." Notice anything about their qualifications?
AAALAC does take the time to justify itself to researchers:
If you're a researcher, you know that there are many regulations and requirements surrounding the use of animals in research. So at first glance, it may seem that participating in AAALAC's voluntary accreditation program is perhaps unnecessary—or just one more hurdle standing between you and your work.AAALAC benefits us, we are told, by eliminating variables, encouraging "performance-based" oversite and enhancing funding opportunities.
The real purpose of AAALAC is (1) to cover the butts of institute administrators; (2) to provide jobs for veterinarians that don't like working with animals and want to be administrators; (3) to give some sort of "cover" to investigators such that they can justify their humane use of experimental animals; (4) make it somewhat easier to apply for grants and publish research papers; (5) to find more and more ways they can insinuate themselves into the research process in order to insure continued existence of their organization.
Very little of what AAALAC does actually affects the health and humane treatment of laboratory animals. Unless file cabinet after file cabinet full of paper work somehow protects the animals.