University of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA

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University of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA
Complaint Letter to USDA - 22 Jun 2011

Go here to see the original letter (PDF)

From SAEN:

6/22/11

Dr. Robert Gibbens 6/22/11
Director, Western Region
USDA/APHIS/AC
2150 Center Ave.
Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117
Dr. Gibbens,

I am contacting you today because I am outraged by an incident which recently took place at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette (72-R-0007). Specifically, I am referring to the issues contained in the USDA inspection report dated 5/31/2011. This report details the death of three primates who became trapped in a chute.

The gravity of this fatal violation cannot be underestimated. The report states:

“Facility director self-reported the deaths of 3 Rhesus monkeys which became trapped in a chute in one of the outdoor breeding colonies. The remains were autolyzed therefore they had been trapped for some time and not properly monitored.”

In other words, these monkeys were trapped in a part of the enclosure, which denied them access to food/water and left them exposed to the elements. Their causes of death, if the bodies had not been too badly decomposed to determine causes of death, would have been starvation, dehydration, heat stroke, etc. depending on the time period in which this event took place. It would have likely taken days for these animals to die, and just as long for their bodies to become so severely decomposed that causes of death were not discussed in this report.

This clearly reveals that these animals were missing for days and no one even noticed. I believe that this indicates that several additional sections of the Animal Welfare Act regulations were violated:

Section 2.32 Personnel Qualifications -- It is clear that the staff this research facility is untrained and unqualified to adequately care for animals in the most basic ways so as to insure they receive food, water, etc. or even notice that the animals are missing.

Section 3.78 (b) “Shelter from the elements. Outdoor housing facilities for non-human primates must provide adequate shelter from the elements at all times.” It is highly likely that exposure to the elements may have played a role in the deaths of these animals.

It is clear from this inspection report that this research facility is either drastically understaffed, or the staff is completely unqualified. How else can the unnoticed deaths of multiple primates be explained? How could the absence of these animals be so totally unnoticed for such an extended period that their bodies were allowed to decompose?

I must insist that your office immediately issue additional citations against the University of Louisiana Lafayette and also institute proceedings to issue the largest fine allowable by law for this heinous incident.

Additionally, I am in possession of internal records from this facility which recount the deaths of many more primate deaths that indicate inadequate veterinary care, inadequate observation of animals, unqualified personnel, etc. The animals whose deaths must be investigated are:

Animal ID Death Date Cause of Death
A8V103 1/23/2009 Thermal Necrosis  
01D149  4/18/2009  Trauma
01D149  4/18/2009  Trauma
A9E006  4/23/2009 Neglect/Abuse
A9E010  5/24/2009 Trauma
A9V036 6/5/2009 Trauma
A9V048  6/10/2009 Trauma
A9V053  6/10/2009 Trauma
A9E011  7/10/2009 Trauma
A9V091 8/16/2009 Trauma
01D227 8/26/2009 Trauma
A2V019 9/187/2009 Trauma
A9E046 1/109/2010 Trauma
05D324 2/10/2010 Acute Hemorrhagic enteritis w/septicemia
2D035 2/21/2020 Traumatic Stress
H611 2/27/2010 Trauma
02D180 5/11/2010 Ascending Necrosis/Toxemia
H541 5/17/2010 Trauma
02D420 5/18/2010 Necrosing Traumatic Wounds
A10E045 7/20/2010 Trauma/Neglect
A10V125 8/9/2010 Trauma/Neglect
A10V145 10/8/2010 Severe Rectal Prolapse
A8V-67 10/21/2010 Trauma
A10V002 11/27/2010 Septicemia
02D189 12/24/2010 Trauma

Several of the animals listed above involve the issue of necrosis (death of tissue due to injury, infection, etc.) and I believe that necrosis is indicative of inadequate observation of animals for an extended period of time. Similarly, septicemia (systemic infection) takes time to develop and must also be the result of inadequate observation. Additionally, it is clear that a high number of animals at this facility have died due to traumatic injuries. The documents which provided the data above is relevant to only roughly 20% of the 6500 primates at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. Therefore, it is highly likely that as many as 45 monkeys die due to traumatic injuries at this facility every year. This must indicate violation of:

Section 2.33 Veterinary Care. (b)(2) The use of appropriate methods to prevent, control, diagnose, and treat diseases and injuries.

Since the documents in my possession deal with only a fraction of the animals at this lab, it is imperative that all deaths of unusual causes (trauma, septicemia, etc.) must be investigated as well.

As this investigation is likely to bring to light more violations by the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, I must also insist that this facility receive the maximum in penalties for these infractions as well.

I expect that your office will reply to this correspondence within five business days.

Sincerely,

Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T.,
Executive Director, SAEN

Rats, mice, birds, amphibians and other animals have been excluded from coverage by the Animal Welfare Act. Therefore research facility reports do not include these animals. As a result of this situation, a blank report, or one with few animals listed, does not mean that a facility has not performed experiments on non-reportable animals. A blank form does mean that the facility in question has not used covered animals (primates, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, pigs, sheep, goats, etc.). Rats and mice alone are believed to comprise over 90% of the animals used in experimentation. Therefore the majority of animals used at research facilities are not even counted.

We welcome your comments and questions