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21 April 2002
PeTA's 6-Month Undercover Investigation

From Ingrid Newkirk - IngridN@peta.org 

April 18, 2002 - We are breaking a six-month undercover investigation today in North Carolina. For more information, please check out peta.org.

PETA EXPOSES HIDDEN WORLD OF CRUELTY TO "LESSER" LAB ANIMALS IN JESSE HELMS' HOME STATE

PETA Asks Congress to Vote Against N.C. Senator's Bid to Exclude Billions From Federal Protection, Based on Findings of UNC-Chapel Hill Investigation

Raleigh - At a news conference today, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) will reveal the shocking findings of a six-month undercover investigation into the animal laboratories at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill. This week, the U.S. Congress is set to vote on an amendment to the Farm Bill that, if passed, would forever exclude birds, mice, and rats from the protection of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the oversight of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The "back door" amendment was introduced as a favor to medical research trade groups by North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms. Today, every congressional conference committee member received investigative footage and documentation of egregious animal suffering, courtesy of PETA.

Date: Thursday, April 18 Time: 11 a.m. Place: Clarion Hotel State Capital, 320 Hillsborough St., Raleigh

PETA's investigator documented cruel practices that would be illegal under the AWA if inflicted on any other animals in labs. Documentation of the following practices, which also violate the NIH guide for lab animal use, will be presented to NIH by PETA next week:

* no veterinary care for sick and dying animals
* experimenters lying to conceal sick and dying animals
* cruel, inept, and insufficient killing methods
* live animals who had their necks broken or who were improperly gassed and thrown out with the dead
* surgeries and other procedures conducted without the required oversight of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC)
* severely overcrowded cages, in violation of NIH recommendations
* an ineffectual and uninformed IACUC

PETA's investigator was hired on October 15, 2001, as an animal care technician in the Thurston Bowles Building at UNC. She stayed until yesterday, April 17, documenting animal care violations and the failure of the IACUC to address the problems that she had brought to their attention in February, March, and April.

"The animals at UNC are treated hideously cruelly, and in trying to gloss over and perpetuate their suffering, Jesse Helms is out of line with a nation that is increasingly conscious of humane issues," said PETA's Director of Research and Investigations Mary Beth Sweetland. "Rats and mice may not be as attractive as cats and dogs, but they suffer every bit as much when they have their heads cut off with a pair of scissors.

The USDA agrees that it must oversee rats, mice, and birds, and Helms needs to step out of the way and let the federal agency do just that. "Video footage of the investigation is available and can be seen at PETA.org.

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