Animal rights group wants USDA to investigate UI for rabbit deaths

Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
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"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Tell the USDA to levy a HUGE FINE against University of Iowa for multiple Animal Welfare Act violations which killed four rabbits.

Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Western Region, USDA
2150 Center Ave, Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117
(970) 494-7478
[email protected]

Animal rights group wants USDA to investigate UI for rabbit deaths

By Chase Castle, Iowa city Press-Citizen, Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An animal rights group wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct a "full investigation" into the deaths of four rabbits that died during a research study at the University of Iowa and to issue fines against the university, the group said in a letter sent Tuesday.

According to a copy of a routine inspection report by the USDA dated Aug. 26, four rabbits died between June 14 and June 16 during a study conducted at medical laboratories under the UI Office of Animal Resources.

The USDA report says staff conducting the study and the principle investigator, who is not named, did provide care for the animals. However, the report says, the investigator and his staff didn't contact or consult with the attending veterinarian about the health of the animals, or notify the veterinarian or his staff of the animals' deaths until June 16.

The report says the animals died of "unexpected study complications" and that "failure to notify the attending veterinarian regarding the health of the animals does not ensure proper veterinary care at the facility." It also says "direct and frequent communication" is required so that "timely and accurate information on problems of animal health, behavior and well-being are conveyed" to the veterinarian.

The group, called Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, said that in addition to further investigation into the deaths, the university laboratory is liable for up to $10,000 per infraction per animal under the Federal Animal Welfare Act.

"It is clear from the report the staff carrying out these experiments failed to call a veterinarian knowing the animals were in distress," SAEN representative Julia Orr said in a written statement. "Researchers are well aware of the requirements for the safety of the animals and their negligence killed these rabbits."

Even though the report of the animals' deaths was filed by the USDA, Orr said in a phone interview that sending a letter about the report to the western region director of the USDA prevents potential violations from being overlooked.

"If we feel like something is a violation of the Animal Welfare Act, then we report back to the USDA," Orr said. "We like to think about it as helping the USDA highlight potential laboratories that are in violation of the act."

Tanya Espinosa, a spokeswoman for the USDA, said that when complaints are received from a private citizen or an organization, the department first examines whether the case qualifies for the Animal Welfare Act.

"Because sometimes we receive complaints that are not Animal Welfare Act-related," Espinosa said.

The Animal Welfare Act, passed in 1966, regulates the treatment of animals used for research or exhibition, such as in zoos or circuses. The act excludes animals in retail pet stores or household pets.

If the case qualifies, the USDA also will examine whether the deaths were fully addressed through an inspection report. If the issue was not addressed, the department may gather additional information, which could include an unannounced inspection of the targeted facility, Espinosa said.

Tom Moore, a spokesperson for the University of Iowa, said the university has addressed the USDA report internally.

"The University of Iowa is committed to complying with all rules and regulations governing the care and use of animals in research," Moore said in an email. "The University acted promptly to correct the issue reported this summer."

Espinosa said there is no timeframe for responding to the group's complaints.

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