Death of dog in animal research lab leads to citation for Washington University
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Death of dog in animal research lab leads to citation for Washington University
From Blythe Bernhard, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 8, 2018

Federal health inspectors have cited Washington University for inappropriate care of a dog that died in June during a medical research project.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates animal research, the dog had undergone surgery and developed complications from anesthesia. Lab workers failed to contact a veterinarian on-call as required by school and USDA policy and the dog died.

Inspectors with the USDA found that the veterinarian would have made different recommendations for the dog's care. The university corrected the issues raised by the inspectors.

"The respectful care and treatment of animals in research studies is paramount to Washington University," a university spokeswoman said in a statement. "The research technicians involved in monitoring the dog were suspended from all activities involving animals while the university conducted an investigation of the incident. Washington University is working proactively to prevent future incidents. This includes increasing oversight and retraining laboratory personnel about the criteria and responsibility for contacting the veterinary staff when complications occur."

The citation was the third critical violation of animal research protocol at Washington U. medical school in the last two years. The USDA has found no other critical violations in animal research in Missouri this year.

In September 2016, a rabbit died of hypothermia after surgery when a heating pad malfunctioned. The rabbit's temperature was not monitored adequately as required, USDA inspectors found.

A monkey died in June 2017 after undergoing an MRI. The monkey's vital signs were not monitored under anesthesia as required, according to the USDA. Both violations were resolved with adjustments in policy and training to meet federal rules.

St. Louis University had one serious animal care violation over the same time period. In September 2016, SLU staff accidentally attached a feeding tube instead of IV fluids into a pig's vein, causing the pig's death. The university held additional training and hired a new research assistant to oversee animals.

In 2016, Washington U. stopped using cats to train new doctors on inserting breathing tubes after years of pressure from animal rights groups. The USDA recorded no violations in the care of the cats.

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