RENO, Nev. (AP) - An animal rights group has ranked the
University of Nevada, Reno's animal research lab as the worst in the
nation after it was cited with 46 violations of U.S. animal welfare
The Agriculture Department fined the university $11,400
last month for the violations, including mistreatment of pigs and sheep,
improper oversight of research animals and substandard animal care
"These were very serious charges," said Michael Budkie,
executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, based in Milford,
"In our opinion, the $11,000 fine they received was far
too small," he said Thursday by telephone.
Last year, the group ranked the University of
California-San Francisco as the worst lab nationally because it had been
cited 51 times over a three-year period for violating the Animal Welfare
"UNR eclipsed that in just a period of months, so we are
naming them as the worst lab. They essentially tripled the UCSF record,
which is quite an accomplishment," Budkie said.
UNR officials said the ranking is unwarranted and that the
school already has taken steps to address most of the problems cited by
the Department of Agriculture.
"USDA made it very clear to us they made no finding of
animal abuse," UNR Provost John Frederick said Thursday.
"If you read the findings, they are things like small
irregularities in facilities and a couple of procedural things we can
clean up. They are not things that lead one to believe animals have been
grossly mistreated here," he said.
"If there had been that kind of finding, the fine would
not have been $11,000 but would have been hundreds of thousands of
dollars," he said.
Frederick said he was not familiar with the group, other
than that "one of their goals is basically to shut down animal research.
"I don't know what to say to a group like that. I think
animal research benefits lots of people, including animals," he said.
Budkie, an animal health technician trained at the
University of Cincinnati, said he has been working on animal lab issues
since 1986 and incorporated the group in 1996.
His group said other schools with more than 30 violations
over the past three years are University of Florida, 47; University of
Connecticut, 43; University of Pennsylvania, 36; University of Puerto
Rico, 33; and Johns Hopkins, 31.
"We've been watching this whole thing now for awhile at
UNR. Clearly UNR is trying to downplay this thing and make it sound like
it's no big deal," Budkie said.
The violations at UNR included repeatedly leaving 10
research pigs with inadequate water and housing, frequent poor sanitation
at animal care facilities and a lack of veterinary care.
UNR professor Hussein S. Hussein has filed a lawsuit
against university officials - including UNR President John Lilley -
accusing them of orchestrating reprisals and trying to fire him since he
complained to the USDA last summer about the alleged abuse of research
animals, including the deaths of dozens of sheep.
The USDA investigation began last year after the Reno
Gazette-Journal reported on research at the school, finding that 38
pregnant sheep died in October 2002 in a locked paddock in which they were
kept without food or water for three days.
This story ran in the Akron Beacon Journal (OH), The
Stamford Advocate (CT), The Las Vegas Sun (NV), the Las Vegas Herald (NV),
the Chicago Tribune (IL), The Greenwich Time (CT), and Newsday Magazine
(NY). The story was also picked up by KRNV-TV (Reno), KESQ- TV (CA), WFSB-TV
(CT), and KMV Radio (NV).
Go on to Animal
Advocacy Group Says UNR Has “Worst Research Lab” in Nation
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