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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Media Coverage

Animal Rights Group Alleges Violations; Research Group Says System Working

BY JEANNIE BAUMANN
5 Jul 2006

An animal rights group June 28 released a report accusing
a number of research institutions that conduct
animal research—particularly in the New England
area—of violating federal regulations and neglecting
the animals in their laboratories.

The report, by the Cincinnati-based group Stop Animal
Exploitation Now! (SAEN), listed the top 20 violators
of the Animal Welfare Act and described alleged
violations at various other institutions and research
centers. It was based on a September 2005 audit
(33002-3-SF) of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service’s (APHIS) Animal Care division conducted by
the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector
General, as well as USDA inspection reports and other
documents. The APHIS/AC division is responsible for
enforcing AWA requirements.

Listed institutions included academic medical centers
and research institutions, contract research organizations,
hospitals, and a pharmaceutical company.

The group said violations included a monkey that allegedly
was strangled on plastic tubing because the researcher
went out to lunch and a squirrel monkey that
allegedly died in another laboratory after being run
through a cage washer. The report also described accusations
of inadequate veterinary care and food deprivation
at various institutions.

Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN and author
of the report, wrote that listed institutions routinely
ignore or change research protocols, and ignore the effects
of drugs.

‘‘From a scientific point of view the information presented
in this report is catastrophic,’’ Budkie alleged.

‘‘This total lack of consistency results in data that is
compromised, or more likely useless.’’

Report Shows Regulations Working. However, Frankie
Trull, president of the National Association for Biomedical
Research, said the SAEN report indicates that
the field of animal research is highly regulated and that
the regulations are working.

‘‘Otherwise [Budkie] would find nothing. But the fact
is that there are a number of violations that you see frequently that have nothing to do with care and treatment
of animals,’’ such as paint chips, open feed bags, and
expired medicines still in the cabinet, she told BNA
June 29. ‘‘I’m not going to say to you it is a perfect system,
but if you saw nothing going on in a human hospital,
that would be surprising as well.’’

‘‘The research facilities, when there’s a screw up,
they report it. That’s exactly what’s supposed to happen,’’
she said. NABR describes itself on its Web site as
a nonprofit organization ‘‘advocating sound public
policy that recognizes the vital role of humane animal
use in biomedical research, higher education, and product
safety testing.’’

In the SAEN report, Budkie alleged that violations include
inappropriate drug dosages, failure to use or under use
of anesthetics, as well as using expired drugs to
treat animals.

‘‘The sloppiness and disregard for any semblance of
scientific method is shocking,’’ Budkie wrote. ‘‘It is no
wonder that our drugs are unsafe. It is clear that animal
research in the U.S. is anything but scientific.’’

A summary of the USDA OIG audit included in the
SAEN report said the OIG found that ‘‘[d]ue to a lack of
clear National guidance, AC’s Eastern Region is not aggressively pursuing enforcement actions against violators
of the AWA [Animal Welfare Act].’’ According to
the OIG audit summary, the number of suspected violators
referred for action in the Eastern Region declined
from an average of 209 cases in fiscal years 2002-2003
to 82 cases in FY 2004, and the region’s management
declined to take action on 127 of the 475 cases referred
during that period. In contrast, the audit summary said
the AC Western Region declined to take action on only
18 of 439 referred cases in the same time span. The audit
summary said Eastern Region inspectors ‘‘believe
the lack of enforcement action undermines their credibility
and authority to enforce the AWA.’’

Budkie said research institutions have used this apparent
enforcement decline as a ‘‘license to ignore federal
law on a wholesale level.’’ Nine of the research institutions
in the SAEN report top 20 list are based in
Massachusetts.

‘‘They know that there are effectively no penalties for
abusing animals and they have taken advantage of the
situation,’’ Budkie wrote in the report.

UW Says Report Distorts Facts. However, a statement
from the University of Wisconsin—one of a number of
academic research institutions listed in the top 20—
denied the claims of abuse. In a June 29 statement, the
university in Madison, Wis., said SAEN is not a credible
organization but a small, vocal animal rights organization
with an extreme agenda.

‘‘Their latest report is little more than a publicity gimmick
based on a deceptive interpretation of USDA reports.
The USDA reports cited by SAEN are, in fact,
based upon the university’s own reporting and, contrary
to claims by SAEN, illustrate a vigorous and effective
program of animal care and monitoring. The university
and the primate center take their responsibility
to the animals used in research and teaching seriously
and claims to the contrary have no basis in fact,’’ the
UW statement said.

Rhonda Jung, public relations director for Southern
Research Institute, which is affiliated with the University
of Alabama at Birmingham, said SAEN’s allegations
against their institution in the report were based
on a single incident in the laboratory’s 65-year history
involving a trial for an automated feeding system.

‘‘We were probably much more disturbed by this
than anyone else on the outside because it’s not the way
we do business. It’s not the way we operate,’’ she said.
Upon discovery of the incident, Southern Research
Institute immediately took corrective action, which included
disciplinary measures, changes in oversight, and
notification of the three relevant federal agencies.

‘‘It was kind of surprising to us to be lumped into this
kind of media outreach,’’ Jung told BNA June 29. ‘‘We
put a lot of time, money, effort and resources into our
animal care program.’’

Jung said Southern Research Institute has been
highly successful in conducting animal trials to move
therapies forward, noting that the lab has discovered
six of the cancer drugs currently on the market.

‘‘We’re a successful organization in doing what we do
to find new drugs to treat people, and when you have
those kinds of high expectations of yourself with that
you also have a high expectation that we’re going to do
our work in the very best way,’’ Jung said. ‘‘Animal care
is definitely one of the highest priorities that we have
here.’’

Trull of NABR said, in some ways, the regulations on
biomedical research involving animals are more restrictive
than those for humans. She said proper care of animals
has a scientific imperative as well as a moral and
ethical one because it is difficult to validate data from
animals that are stressed.

‘‘We don’t understand the complex living systems’’
well enough to be able to replace animal research.

‘‘Biomedical research with animals will continue to improve
and their environments will become more sophisticated,’’
she said.

The SAEN report is available on the Web at http://www.all-creatures.org/saen/articles-rep-break.html .
More information on NABR is available at http://www.nabr.org/ .

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