USDA to investigate rabbit's death at MIT lab

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Tell the USDA to fine MIT $10,000 for the negligence which killed a rabbit in a cage washer.

 Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer
Director of USDA's Eastern Region
919-855-7100
Betty.J.Goldentyer@usda.gov

http://cambridge.wickedlocal.com/article/20140604/NEWS/140608670/12584/NEWS

USDA to investigate rabbit’s death at MIT lab

By Marc Filippino, Cambridge.WickedLocal.com, Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A watchdog group is seeking a fine for MIT after officials from the school reported to National Institutes of Health (NIH) that a rabbit was accidently killed in one of its laboratories.

The Ohio-based nonprofit, Stop Animal Exploitation NOW — or SAEN — is asking the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to look into the Jan. 16 incident in which a technician, who had been working for the school’s Division of Comparative Medicine for 11 years, accidentally ran a cage in a washing unit with a rabbit still inside. MIT acknowledged the incident in a letter to NIH, noting the rabbit was killed in the process.

SAEN officials are asking the USDA to look closely into the matter and administer a $10,000 fine. SAEN is saying the rabbit’s death is a major violation of the Animal Welfare Act.

"Negligence at these labs unnecessarily killed these animals," said Michael A. Budkie, SAEN executive director. "The fatal carelessness of these labs deserves the maximum penalty."

The employee, who MIT did not name in the report, was put on unpaid administrative while the matter was investigated. He elected to resign two weeks later.

"MIT deeply regrets that the accidental death of a rabbit occurred. MIT took immediate steps to put in place new protocols to prevent this from happening again, and the employee who made the error is no longer employed by the institute," said an MIT spokesperson.

MIT said in a letter to Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare in Maryland, the "incident was attributable to negligence" and that their operating procedure and training will continue to make sure this type of death never happens again. Additionally, MIT now requires two people remove the bottom of the cage, and then invert it to confirm the cage is empty. 

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