Animal rights group claims dogs are in danger at UT vet school

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http://www.wate.com/story/14878064/animal-rights-group-claims-dogs-are-in-danger-at-ut-vet-school

Animal rights group claims dogs are in danger at UT vet school

By Erica Estep, WATE TV, June 9, 2011

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Some serious accusations are being hurled at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. A watchdog group claims dogs are in danger from illegal, and un-necessary experiments in the school's lab.

See the WATE TV segment.

The Ohio based group Stop Animal Exploitation Now <http://www.all-creatures.org/saen/> claims dogs were put through painful, life threatening experiments at UT.

Veterinarians and staff at UT have long been hailed heroes to abused animals, like a Knox County dog who was dragged behind a car by her owner.

Healing and rehabilitation is their specialty, but SAEN is accusing them of carelessness and negligence.

"There were some, actually several apparently unapproved, and therefore illegal surgical procedures being performed on dogs," said SAEN co-founder Michael Budkie.

Budkie says the most recent inspection of the vet school by the USDA shows the experimentation on dogs was dangerous, and researchers did not follow federal protocol.

"These procedures had very serious consequences for the animals," explained Budkie. "In one instance, they were so serious that one of the animals had to be rushed into an emergency surgery, and for several of the dogs, they actually developed draining lesions."

The April inspection report focuses on three dogs that had drug-infused pellets implanted under their skin. Budkie said the drug was nicotine.

"People need to think, would we want these things being done to animals just like our companions? Are these the kind of things that need to be done? Are these the kind of things that in some instances we want our federal money spent on?" Budkie said.

The animal rights group is insisting the USDA fine UT and hand out "the most severe action allowable under the Animal Welfare Act."

The UT College of Veterinary Medicine provided 6 News with the following statement:

The University of Tennessee remains fully committed to providing appropriate and humane care to our study animals. Following an internal Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) review of procedures, a researcher was suspended, and we self-reported to the USDA prior to the routine USDA inspection.

In the USDA report, the animal care items we self-reported were classified as "indirect noncompliant." The USDA considers indirect noncompliant items important, as do we, but indirect noncompliant items are not considered of high potential to adversely affect the health and well-being of the animal.

All items in the USDA report have been addressed and either have been or are in the process of being corrected. This situation illustrates the importance of our IACUC, that we have protocols and procedures in place to ensure the well-being of our study animals, and that we take seriously our responsibility to humanely care for animals.

In addition to complying with all federal, state, and institutional policies that regulate animal research, our laboratory animal facilities are accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) which is an additional rigorous voluntary accreditation process that further demonstrates our commitment to animal care.

See also: University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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