Colorado State University Cited In Lab Kitten's Hanging

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Colorado State University Cited In Lab Kitten's Hanging

From TheDenverChannel.com
January 2010

The group Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, which publicized the inspection reports, said such animals deaths have become far too common at research labs nationwide.

A Colorado State University animal laboratory was cited last year after a kitten was accidentally hung when it became tangled in cage bedding, according to a federal report.

CSU was cited for failing to maintain a safe animal enclosure by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the January 2009 report.

The kitten was found dead in its enclosure "with its neck and head caught in a worn towel used as a cover on an elevated resting surface," the USDA report said.

CSU was also cited for not properly handling animals after a dog being allowed to run free in an open area escaped and wasn't recovered until the next morning, the USDA inspector report said.

The group Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, which publicized the inspection reports, said such animals deaths have become far too common at research labs nationwide.

"The thing that we're seeing is that incidents like the death of this kitten at Colorado State University are clearly not unique. Similar things have happened at many other laboratories," said Michael A. Budkie, executive director of the animal-rights group.

“Negligence at these facilities has taken the lives of many animals and caused unnecessary suffering to many others,” he added.

CSU issued a statement saying the kitten's accidental death in August 2008 was "highly unusual."

The cat's enclosure had been outfitted with "a soft towel as part of its bedding, and the kitten’s neck became wrapped in the towel overnight and it died from strangulation," the statement said. "Towels and sometimes fleece sheets, rugs or other soft material is provided as comfortable bedding for cats."

CSU said it immediately reported the incident to the USDA. A campus animal care committee conducted a review and instituted additional training to prevent such an accident from occurring again, the statement said.

"Colorado State University is concerned with the well being of all animals on campus and under its care. CSU takes all of these incidents seriously and the university upholds the highest standards of animal care," the university statement said.

SAEN criticized grisly animal deaths at other labs.

For example, a monkey at a Charles River Laboratories animal testing facility in Reno died in April after it was left in a cage run through a high-heat washing system, the USDA reported.

"So, this primate was literally boiled alive," Budkie said.

Part of the problem, Budkie said, is that even in such terribly negligent incidents, the USDA's sanctions are just a slap on the wrist.

Charles River was fined $4,500 in the monkey's death, he said.

“These facilities should face serious consequences, but the USDA is allowing them to literally get away with murder," he said.

Earlier in 2009, the same Reno lab was cited for killing 32 primates when a heating system malfunctioned.

"They were fined $10,000. Well, the 32 primates were worth more than that," Budkie said.