Complaint filed against WSU by animal rights group
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now

ACTION ALERT:

Contact the USDA to Demand a Maximum FINE against Washington State University:

Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Western Region, USDA
(970) 494-7478
Robert.M.Gibbens@aphis.usda.gov 
acwest@aphis.usda.gov

SAMPLE MESSAGE:

Please levy the MAXIMUM FINE against Washington State University for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act when their negligence killed bears and sheep. Their negligence in allowing staff to fatally overdose bighorn sheep and also in allowing bears to become seriously debilitated should NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Complaint filed against WSU by animal rights group
By Eric Barker, LewistonTribune.com, source, June 3, 2016

An animal rights group filed a complaint against Washington State University Thursday, asking the federal government to levy fines against the institution related to the deaths of two grizzly bears and the overdosing of three bighorn sheep.

Michael Budkie, executive director of the group Stop Animal Exploitation Now, asked the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, an agency under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to fine the university $10,000 for each infraction cited in an April 26 inspection report by the agency. That report highlighted an incident last March in which three bighorn sheep were given dexamethasone at 50 times the approved dosage for three consecutive days and a 2010 incident in which two grizzly bears had to be euthanized after nearly starving to death when they failed to go into hibernation.

Budkie said he intends to file more complaints and would like the USDA to investigate and prosecute the university.

"I have a feeling I have only seen the tip of the iceberg. What I saw in the USDA report clearly sent off warning signals and red flags," he said.

"Overdosing an animal with a drug is one thing, but overdosing three animals at the level of 50 times the prescribed dose of a drug and having that go on for three consecutive days demonstrates a very serious level of incompetence."

The Cincinnati-based group has a mission to end experimentation on animals and routinely files such complaints against universities and animal research facilities.

Charlie Powell, spokesman for the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, said the three bighorn sheep cited in the report were part of a study seeking a vaccination for pneumonia that has ravaged wild bighorn sheep herds in Idaho, Washington and throughout the Western United States for decades.

An approved dose of dexamethasone was given to the animals to suppress their immune systems in the hopes it would give an experimental vaccine a chance to work.

When it did not, Powell said a graduate student acting on his own, and based on papers he read from other research institutions, gave the animals the much larger dose of the drug. That also failed to work and the sheep developed pneumonia. They were later euthanized.

Powell said the sheep did not suffer because of the high doses, the student has since graduated and the professor overseeing the vaccine development has retired. But he said the college would use the incident as an example.

"I think the opportunity for us in the future is to talk to graduate students about asking their major professors in all instances when they see dosages in other studies that are outside of the dosages that are approved for use here at Washington State University," he said.

"This is an uncommon error but it's an opportunity for us to just condition graduate students that if you've seen it approved elsewhere it doesn't necessarily mean it's approved here."

The death of the two grizzly bears was highlighted in an internal investigation made public in March. It indicated the two young grizzly bears were placed in individual culvert traps for hibernation. The traps were stored at a site away from the Grizzly Bear Research Center and caretakers did not immediately notice the bears did not go into hibernation. By the time it was discovered, the bears could not be saved.

The university issued a statement Thursday from Kim Kidwell, acting dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, saying the university conducted its own review of bear center operations and addressed "specific concerns and addressed them before USDA inspections."

Budkie said he is not impressed that the university investigated itself.

"Whenever things have gotten so bad that a university is self-investigating that is clearly a major problem," he said.

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