From the Wilmington Advocate
By Mac McEntire, Staff Writer
Thu Mar 06, 2008, 10:55 AM EST
Wilmington - A national animal rights organization has
targeted an animal testing company, headquartered in Wilmington, with
allegations of primate amputation.
Ohio native Michael Budkie, representing Stop Animal
Exploitation Now, an organization highlighting the abuse to animals,
recently sent a letter to Elizabeth Goldentyer of U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
(APHIS) detailing his concerns.
Budkie’s comments are not about the Wilmington
facility, though he has staged protests in Wilmington in the past.
Instead, his allegations have to do with another Charles River facility
in Sparks, Nev. Referencing a USDA/APHIS report dated March 22, 2007,
Budkie said the facility caused the injuries of four primates, which
resulting in some of the animals’ fingers being amputated. The same
report states that the situation was corrected three days later.
“I know that your office considers major violations of
the Animal Welfare Act to be very serious in nature, especially when
these violations directly impact the lives of animals and potentially
endanger public safety,” Budkie wrote in his letter to the USDA. “The
treatment of animals at this facility illustrates attitudes of
carelessness and contempt for regulations that must be punished so that
meaningful changes can be made.”
“The animal enclosures were placed in a manner that
did not protect the animals from injury,” the USDA report states. “A
surface was placed on transport carts causing injury to digits in
primates. The enclosures should be placed in such a way that does not
cause injury to the animals. Solid surfaces should be placed downward to
prevent animal injury.”
On Nov. 29, 2006, the report states that a primate was
being moved in its crate to another area. During transport it got its
fingers caught in the wiring of the cage and the surface of the
transporter. Part of the animal’s hand had to be amputated.
Then, the report states, on Nov. 30, 2006, a primate
being moved in its cage, and part of its hand also got caught in the
wiring between the cage and the surface of the transporter. Part of its
hand also had to be amputated.
Another incident occurred on Nov. 30, 2006, when
another primate got its fingers caught between the cage and the
transporter. One digit had to be amputated.
Finally, on Dec. 1, 2006, the report states, a primate
got its tail caught between the cage and the transporter. The tail was
lacerated and had to be treated.
The report defined the animals’ “transporter” as a
“dolly or flat bed cart.”
“The situation was corrected in three days,” the
report states. “The cause of these incidents were corrected prior to the
USDA inspection, and the facility needs to ensure that all future moves
are safe for the animals.”
Amy Cianciaruso, assistant director of public
relations for Charles River, said Wednesday that steps were taken to
prevent these incidents from happening again.
“We’ve made changes to rectify the problem so it won’t
happen again,” she said.
Charles River Laboratories provides research models,
laboratory animal support services, preclinical services, and clinical
services to the biomedical industry, with a focus on improving human and
animal health. Cianciaruso said the animals at Charles River must be
kept safe and healthy to ensure the best results for the company’s
“We have a huge commitment to animal welfare,” she
said. “It’s at the root of everything we do.”
Cianciaruso said the use of animals at Charles River
is required by law before the medicines go to market.
“Laboratory animals are an important resource that
further our knowledge of living systems and contribute to the discovery
of life-saving drugs and procedures,” the
Charles River Web site states. “At
Charles River, we work hand-in-hand with the scientific community to
understand how living conditions, handling procedures, and stress play
an important role in the quality and efficiency of research. As animal
caregivers and researchers, we are responsible to our clients and the
public for the health and well being of the animals in our care.”
The site also states that the company has its own
Animal Welfare and Training Group, consisting of professionals trained
in laboratory animal medicine, as well as science, education and ethics.
Charles River Laboratories is headquartered in
Wilmington, at 251 Ballardvale St. It is one of the largest employers in
Massachusetts, with more than 1,300 employees in Wilmington and its new
Shrewsbury location. The Boston Business Journal named Charles River the
company of the year in 2006.
River Laboratories - Wilmington, MA