SAEN LogoHealth Focus: Rabbit's death at R.I. Hospital angers animal-rights group
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Contact USDA to DEMAND MAX FINE against RI Hospital

Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer, Director, USDA, Eastern Region
[email protected]
[email protected]


Please levy the MAXIMUM FINE against Rhode Island Hospital for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act when their negligence killed a rabbit. It is unconscionable that Rhode Island Hospital mishandled a rabbit so terribly as to cause a broken back. Their behavior should NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law. The time is NOW to send a clear message with stiff penalties to these incompetent facilities that these behaviors will NOT be tolerated!


Health Focus: Rabbit's death at R.I. Hospital angers animal-rights group
By Richard Salit,, October 3, 2015

I'm always receiving all sorts of notices and announcements, many of them routine, predictable and uninteresting. I spare you those. But one that arrived last week practically hopped out from among the others for its unusualness.

It was about a rabbit.

The news release came from an out-of-state animal welfare group upset about what it said was the death of a rabbit used for research at Rhode Island Hospital.

Yes, such an incident did take place, hospital spokeswoman Beth Bailey confirmed. It happened in November 2014 and the hospital, following federal requirements for the use of animals for research, reported the incident to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"We had a rabbit that fell. Rabbit bones are very fragile," she said. "The attending veterinarian was called and determined after an examination that a spinal fracture occurred and the rabbit was euthanized."

The report indicates that a lab worker "accidentally dropped a rabbit when returning the animal to its primary enclosure following ... an approved research activity. The rabbit had suddenly moved when the staff members opened the door ... and the animal fell to the floor."

The USDA's animal and plant health inspection service concluded that the hospital reported the incident properly and responded by "swiftly implementing corrective actions" including retraining for laboratory staff.
The whole matter apparently didn't sit well with Stop Animal Exploitation Now, which is based in Ohio and associated with a group that advocates for "cruelty-free living through a vegetarian-vegan lifestyle according to Judeo-Christian ethics."

"The carelessness of Rhode Island Hospital staff that caused the suffering and death of this rabbit must be punished,” said the group's research analyst Stacey Ellison. Calling on the USDA to slap the hospital with a $10,000 fine, she said, “This incident of fatal negligence deserves the maximum penalty.”

Bailey, when asked to comment, said the federal government "determined that our actions were appropriate, that there was no negligence."

She noted that hospital is accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation for Laboratory Animal Care and that its researchers and research committees are "committed to proper, safe and humane treatment of animals in medical research and follow strict federal rules and regulations designed to protect animals."

Full disclosure: A very cute pet rabbit resides in my basement.

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