Group says that Washington University lab tech struck dog

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Please contact the USDA to levy a HUGE FINE against Washington University for abusing a dog and for multiple Animal Welfare Act violations connected to that abuse.

Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Western Region, USDA
2150 Center Ave.
Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117
(970) 494-7478
[email protected] 

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/education/feds-looking-into-wash-u-over-animal-abuse-complaint/article_87c362a1-550f-5dbe-9d21-d171ced74850.html

Group says that Washington University lab tech struck dog

By Koran Addo, StlToday.com, Tuesday, October 6, 2014

The federal government is looking into a complaint made by an animal welfare group that, on at least one occasion, a Washington University lab technician was seen striking a dog with a closed fist.

Washington University self-reported the October 2012 incident to the National Institutes of Health a month after the incident. The school said in that letter that the lab technician’s animal privileges had been permanently withdrawn.

The letter said the university’s Animal Studies Committee launched an investigation after first hearing the allegations from a witness.

After interviewing both the lab technician and the witness, the university found that the employee had beaten the dog, and furthermore had “a history of past rough handling of animals.”

The letter went on to say that within a month of the incident, the employee no longer worked for Washington University.

The beating incident became public through public records requested by the Ohio-based animal welfare group, Stop Animal Exploitation Now.

Group Executive Director Michael Budkie said the organization has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“This is a clear violation of the Animal Welfare Act,” Budkie said Monday. “It’s clear from their own letter that Washington University was aware this person had a history of rough handling of animals. What we don’t know is how many animals were treated similarly that were not reported.”

Budkie called it problematic that Washington University reported the incident to the NIH two years ago, but no further action was taken until his organization filed a complaint with the USDA.

“What you have is one part of the federal government that knows federal law is being violated, but they’re not reporting it to other parts of the federal government,” Budkie said.

USDA spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa confirmed that the agency is looking into the animal abuse complaint but said it has not reached the level of an official investigation.

The typical process, she said, is for the USDA to dispatch inspectors to check into abuse allegations. Once an inspection report is filed, the agency decides whether to launch an official investigation.

If an entity is found to have violated federal law, Espinosa said, the USDA can either issue a warning, impose a fine, or refer the case to a judge who can levy a fine of $10,000 per infraction, per animal.

The five most recent USDA inspections into Washington University, dating to July 2012, did not uncover any wrongdoing on the university’s part.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, Washington University spokeswoman Joni Westerhouse said while it is sometimes necessary to use animals in the course of scientific study, the school doesn’t condone what happened.

“Washington University places a high priority on the proper care and treatment of research animals; mistreatment of any research animal is not tolerated,” she said. “We encourage employees who witness inappropriate treatment of animals to report such incidents. Employees may file reports anonymously.” 

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