Gilbertsville, PA Animal Research Facility worst in nation during first half of 2013

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http://blogcenter.readingeagle.com/a-closer-look-at-animal-welfare-issues/tag/rockland-inc/

Gilbertsville, PA Animal Research Facility worst in nation during first half of 2013

From BlogCenter.ReadingEagle.com, Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rockland Inc., Gilbertsville, PA is the site of the worst animal lab in the nation during the first half of 2013 after being cited for 26 federal violations by the USDA (US Dep’t of Agriculture) during three inspections in early 2013 according to the National Research Watchdog Group SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation).

Michael Budkie, co-founder of SAEN, says Rockland is known for using rabbits to produce antibodies. Progress of antibody production is monitored by taking blood samples on a regular basis.

In three separate inspections during the months of March and April of this year, Rockland was cited by the USDA for violating the Animal Welfare Act during the March 13th inspection (10 violations), March 26th inspection (10 violations) and April 22nd inspection (six violations).

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) requires that minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public, according to the USDA’s website. Sadly, these basic requirements have not been met by Rockland Inc.

Two rabbits died during the 3/26 inspection. Rockland was cited for inadequate veterinary care relevant to at least 12 rabbits and two goats in addition to multiple incidents of negligence including storing a dead rat in a refrigerator with veterinary medications and the contanimation of animal bedding with bird feces.

A key incident in the 3/13 inspection discloses the death of a rabbit who was over-bled twice in seven days. This equates to having too much blood drawn, according to an inspection report supplied by Budkie.

The following are other reasons Rockland Inc. was cited: inadquate veterinary care, inadequte enclosures, improper feeding, inadequate sanitation, performance of unapproved experimental procedures, insufficient personnel, and inadequate facilities, etc.

Rabbits are mainly used for experimentation and testing because they are inexpensive to maintain, small, and easily restrained. Most people associate rabbits being used for the Draize eye and skin irritanc tests for cosmetic and household products (which by definition are cruel, in my estimation.

Animal experimentation is controversial, to say the least. According to the Animal Welfare Act, any procedure can be performed on any animal if it can be successfully argued that is scientifically justified. Employees of animal laboratories are to be qualified to work in this environment but that isn’t always the case as with Rockland. Budkie says this is not unusual since it is difficult to know who is working inside these research facilites.

Each violation could cost Rockland up to $10,000 by the USDA according to Budkie but highly unlikely as seen in the past. Rockland will continue to operate as usual despite the violations.

Approximately 1,000 animal labs exist in the U.S. Many different species of animals are used in the labs including dogs, cats, primates, pigs, sheep, goats, guinea pigs, and rabbits. Mice and rats are the most commonly used animals for experimentation.

According to Budkie, mice, rats and birds are not included under the Animal Welfare Act. Roughly over 90% of animals used in labs are rats and mice. Many die every day without protection of any law. Therefore the majority of animals used at research facilities are not even counted.

Rockland has now become infamous for violating federal law 26 times in 6 weeks and they should pay the price,” said Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T., Executive Director, SAEN. “We are pleased that the USDA is taking action against this criminal lab.” 

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