This audit has examined both national trends in
violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by all U.S. laboratories as
well as instances of AWA violations by specific facilities. The national
pattern of violations tends towards the largest percentage of
non-compliances in areas of IACUCs (635) and Veterinary Care (286). The
national statistics (though not specific to laboratories) also pointed to
significant violations (227) in the area of environmental enhancement for
When these statistics are examined more closely we
discover that approximately 1 out of every 4 labs have been cited for
inadequate veterinary care, and 3 out of every five labs have been cited
for inadequate functioning of the Institutional Animal Care & Use
Committee. The only conclusions that can be drawn from these statistics
Significant percentages of the approximately 1.4 million animals
that are housed in labs are not receiving adequate veterinary care.
The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees system is primarily
ineffective at regulating animal experiments.
A significant percentage of the primates confined within U.S.
laboratories are severely stressed and potentially psychologically
When looking at the specific fifteen facilities
discussed in this report, similar trends are seen. Thirteen of the fifteen
labs had violations in the area of Veterinary Care. Eleven of the fifteen
labs had violations in the area of IACUCs. Seven of the fourteen
(University of Connecticut had no primates) had violations in the areas of
Environmental Enhancement for primates. Two of the most consistent
violators of the AWA Ė the University of California San Francisco (UCSF)
and the University of Connecticut (UCONN) have repeated violations in the
area of Veterinary Care and Institutional Animal Care & Use Committees.
Within a three year period UCSF was cited for IACUC violations no less
than seven times, and Veterinary Care five times. Despite having paid a
$129,000 fine for previous violations which included IACUC and Veterinary
Care issues, UCONN violated these same regulations three times each in a
three-year period, combined with a torrent of other serious violations.
The picture that is painted of laboratories by USDA
reports is not a pretty one. Animals are suffering and/or dying of
dehydration (Northwestern, University of Pennsylvania, University of
Connecticut, Yale, University of Washington, UCSF). Primates are dying of
inadequate veterinary care (Northwestern, Emory). Expired drugs are used
without compunction. Rabbits eviscerate following surgery. The unused leg
of a primate goes unnoticed for ten months until it shrivels from disuse
atrophy. Severely stressed primates pace their cages ripping out their
hair. Animals of many species are deprived of food or simply ignored until
they die. And all of this is watched over by ineffective Institutional
Animal Care & Use Committees constituted of professional personnel (i.e.
DVMs, PhDs, and MDs) that apparently canít be bothered to insure adequate
use of pain relievers or the following of experimental protocols.
It is quite apparent that the system designed to protect
animals in laboratories is broken, possibly beyond repair. In some
instances regulatory actions are not taken by appropriate agencies, and
even when stiff fines are levied (i.e. $129,000) it appears to make no
difference. Regulations are broken repeatedly; faulty experiments are
carried out by unqualified personnel. Animals suffer and die unnecessarily
behind the locked doors of laboratories across the U.S.