Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Western Region USDA/APHIS/AC
2150 Center Ave. Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117
Dr. Gibbens, Please LEVY a MAXIMUM FINE against Univ. of Oklahoma for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) when their negligence caused a dog to die in connection to a botched surgery. Their behavior must NOT be tolerated & MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law. The time is NOW to send a clear message with stiff penalties to these renegade, negligent labs that these behaviors will NOT be tolerated!
Dog's death adds to growing concern about handling of research animals at OU
By Joy Hampton, NormanTranscript.com, January 13, 2016
The University of Oklahoma is under the microscope for treatment of research animals at its health sciences facilities after an animal rights group obtained documents revealing the details of the death of a dog in July 2015.
The group Stop Animal Exploitation Now obtained a letter from Dr. James Tomasek, vice president for research at the university's Health Sciences Center, addressed to the National Institutes of Health Animal Welfare Program. It details five issues of noncompliance that resulted in the death of a dog, including lack of equipment sterilization, wrong medication dosages and limited experience by researchers.
The letter outlines a remediation plan to qualify for continuing the study, which had been halted following the dog's death and subsequent animal welfare investigation.
In a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, SAEN calls for the application of the maximum penalty — $10,000 per infraction, per animal.
"University of Oklahoma has clearly demonstrated a long-term pattern of negligence, which has included electrocuting dogs, hosing down infant baboons and now causing the death of a dog due to a fatally botched surgery," said Michael A. Budkie, SAEN executive director. "The USDA should throw the book at OU."
SAEN is a nonprofit group that monitors the nation's research institutions. The university has been on the group's watch list for some time, as it expressed growing concern about what will happen to more than 600 baboons the university plans to retire from research in three years.
On Sept. 8, President David Boren said OU would wind down operations of the baboon program over three to four years, but the university continues to market the animals for research.
In a Nov. 23 listing of the “Primate Resource Referral Service,” OU ran a highlighted ad offering “U.S. born males and females, all ages, research naïve and non-naïve. Colony is supported by NIH P40 grants. Please contact: University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.”
Concerned animal activists said the listing is the research equivalent of putting the baboons on Craig's List.
In early December, The Norman Transcript reported on an open records request obtained from the university indicating that the Annual Report of Research Facility submitted to NIH on Nov. 7, 2014, and signed by Tomasek shows OU's baboon facility had 99 non-human primates undergoing experiments and another 640 baboons that were part of the breeding program funded under the NIH P40 program. That program requires the university to provide baboons to NIH-qualified researchers, regardless of the manner of research.
The baboons are housed at the OU Health Sciences Center research facility in El Reno, but the most intrusive in-house experiments are conducted on the OUHSC Oklahoma City campus.
“They've known for a long time that the need (for baboons in research) was going down,” Bob Ingersoll told The Transcript in December. Ingersoll is an animal activist who focuses on primates. Locally, he is best known for his advocacy for OU chimpanzees he once worked with in a sign language experiment, which included Nim Chimpsky.
“They should not have been breeding these animals in captivity,” Ingersoll said. “The need for baboons that we have in the United States is zero. From my understanding, the most recent papers coming out of NIH, the conclusions are baboons don't make a good model.”
SAEN has accused the research facility of poor preparation for survival surgery and lack of appropriate sterilization of equipment, deviations in dosage and administration of drugs approved for pre-operative tranquilization and post-operative antimicrobial coverage, Minor deviations in surgical procedure from approved study protocol, post-operative monitoring was not documented, and limited procedural experience of the principal investigator and support staff.
An online petition to OU already has more than 75,000 signatures supporting turning the El Reno facility into a sanctuary.
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