Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer
Director, USDA, Eastern Region
Please LEVY a MAXIMUM FINE against University of Florida (UF), for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) when UF staff performed unapproved & therefore illegal brain removal surgeries on cats. This behavior must NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
UF comes under fire for cutting cat
By Deborah Strange, Gainesville.com, February 4, 2017
An animal advocacy group sent a complaint to the U.S. Department of Agriculture about a University of Florida study in which researchers performed an unapproved procedure to cut seven cats' brains in 2014.
Stop Animal Exploitation Now sent a letter at the end of January to the USDA filing a complaint against UF, saying it had violated the Animal Welfare Act.
The complaint cites a report UF published in September 2016 detailing procedures used in the cutting cats' cerebrums, or decerebration, in a 2014 study about aspirating food or liquid, which can cause pneumonia.
The decerebration had been a procedure approved by its Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee's until 2008, but the lab "neglected to transfer the procedure to either one of the current protocols," the UF report says.
The report calls the situation an "oversight."
SAEN's complaint calls it a "very disturbing procedure," adding that it's unclear whether the cats stayed under anesthesia until they were euthanized.
"I am concerned if the cats could have begun to become partially conscious or aware (in some limited fashion) after their cerebrums were removed," SAEN's executive director, Michael Budkie, wrote.
The UF report said decerebrations did not occur between 2008 and 2013 or in 2015. The 2014 case of decerebrations was "the result of a careless error of not reviewing the content of protocols prior to the initiation of a research project."
n a statement, the university said the research would allow scientists to develop treatments for aspiration.
"The mechanisms that prevent aspiration are poorly understood and there are no effective treatments for disordered airway protection available for humans or animals," UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes wrote in a statement emailed to The Sun. "UF's research will provide a foundation on which effective treatments can be developed for both animals and humans."
But SAEN's complaint says that because human coughing patterns are unique, the research would not be scientifically significant.
SAEN's request for USDA intervention asks that the department "take the most severe action allowable under the Animal Welfare Act" and fine UF $10,000 per infraction after investigating.
In an email, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said it had received SAEN's complaint.
"We did receive this complaint and will be looking into it to determine whether there were any Animal Welfare Act noncompliances, however, there is no open investigation at this time," said Tanya Espinosa, a spokeswoman for the service.
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