By Chris Knight
Issue date: 9/19/08
An inspection report by the United States Department of
Agriculture has documented cases of animal mistreatment in
laboratories at Lehigh University.
The inspection reports, which were provided to The Brown and
White by the animal welfare group Stop Animal Exploitation Now,
include reports on botched surgeries on animals, animals dying while
being deprived of food and improperly documented proposals for
The non-profit group, which is based in Ohio, obtained the
inspection reports through Freedom of Information Act requests from
the USDA, which regulates laboratory testing of animals.
The six inspections, conducted between Feb. 15 in 2006 to Aug. 21
of last year, were all from routine inspections of the facilities.
The animal species being tested was not reported in five of the
inspections, although hamsters were mentioned in one report.
Dina Silver, director of marketing communications for Lehigh,
wrote in an e-mail that no Lehigh research efforts have ever been
halted as a result of inspection, and any issues identified in the
past have been corrected. As recently as Wednesday, she said, Lehigh
had an unannounced visit by a USDA investigator and received no
non-compliance citations. A report from March of 2008 also showed no
citations, Silver said.
"Lehigh is dedicated to the humane care and use of animals and is
fully committed to complying with all provisions of the Animal
Welfare Act and other Federal statutes and regulations related to
animals," she said in the e-mail.
Stop Animal Exploitation Now executive director Michael Budkie
said that based on the reports, he thinks there are serious problems
within Lehigh's research facilities. The reports, Budkie said, do
not include any information on whether the university was fined for
"In most instances, it's a slap on the wrist type of thing,"
Budkie said. "Despite the fact that laboratories are violating the
laws more and more, it appears that the USDA is doing less about
Budkie said that the number of violations at laboratories in the
United States has increased by 90 percent in the last five years.
One of the violations at Lehigh occurred on an inspection on June
12 of 2006, during which records were found that animals had died
while being deprived of food. The Lehigh researcher, however, told
the inspector that the food deprivation had caused no problems in
the animals, the inspection said.
Another of the violations was conducting surgery on nine animals
prior to approval by the Institutional Animal Care and Use
Committee, which was found on May 11 of 2006. The nine animals
survived. During other surgeries found during this inspection,
however, four animals died and were found not to have been
sufficiently monitored and provided with adequate veterinary care
following their surgery, the inspection said.
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