CSU fined $23K for animal violations

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CSU fined $23K for animal violations

By Trevor Hughes, Coloradoan.com, August 15, 2011

University cited by inspectors for inadequate feed, housing

CSU paid more than $23,000 to settle allegations of repeated violations of animal-handling laws at the Fort Collins-based research university in the past several years.

Colorado State University was cited by federal inspectors for violations ranging from having contaminated feed to failing to provide shade for some animals. University officials confirmed the violations, highlighted by the group Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, but disputed the significance of the findings.

SAEN spokesman Michael Budkie said the findings mean CSU "has violated the public trust by performing experimentation tainted by carelessness and negligence."

The violations stem from incidents in 2007-2010, and include some previously reported in the Coloradoan, including the death of a cat that accidentally strangled itself and a research dog that temporarily escaped when it was being adopted.

The inspection was conducted by an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. On Monday morning, officials with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, said they could not comment on the violations or confirm whether CSU had been investigated.

SAEN first publicized the kitten's death in January 2010. At that time, CSU officials said they had changed practices to eliminate the danger and called the death "a highly unusual circumstance."

In the case of the escaped dog, CSU officials said the dog was recovered without harm, and policies were changed to help prevent a repeat occurrence. In meeting minutes provided by the university, members of CSU's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee called the researcher's actions "irresponsible" and "showed a lack of understanding about the seriousness" of treating animals well and following university protocol.

APHIS noted those prior violations in issuing fines to CSU for the new violations, which were largely concerning administrative issues, or instances where harm could have occurred, but hadn't.

CSU spokesman Brad Bohlander said the university already has addressed all of the issues raised by the APHIS inspection, including a violation caused by a wild fox tearing into stored animal feed. He said the fine was paid with money set aside for research, and did not come from tuition dollars.

"None of these citations constitute criminal acts. No animals were harmed. But we do take this very seriously," Bohlander said. "CSU is very dedicated to the welfare and humane treatment of animals. We set the standards that other universities and institutions strive to reach."

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