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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

The Defender
From the Summer 2007 Issue

University of Pennsylvania - the Worst Lab in the Nation

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA) is the only piece of federal legislation that protects animals in laboratories.  The requirements of this law are very minimal, primarily regulating the provision of food and water, cage sizing, and the process for approving experimental protocols.  Non-compliance with the AWA would indicate that a research facility cannot even meet very minimal standards. 

However, many regulations which flow from the AWA can be circumvented, with the approval of the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC).  The IACUC is the entity within a laboratory that approves research experiments before they are performed and has the authority to approve exceptions to the AWA.  Adherence to the AWA does NOT signify that animals within a lab are protected from abuse, only that abusive procedures have been rubber stamped by the labís own staff. 

USDA inspection reports for the University of Pennsylvania (UPA) for the period 3/14/05 Ė 11/18/05 reveal an extremely high number of violations of the AWA.  In fact, as compared to over 250 labs for the same period, UPA has the highest total of violations of this federal law of any in the nation -- 77.  This is more than twice the second place finisher -- Harvard with 32.  

UPAís violations are primarily in three categories housing/facilities/sanitation, veterinary care, and IACUC.  Other less frequently violated areas include unqualified personnel and inadequate environmental enhancement for primates.     

Inadequate veterinary care can include many things from the use of inappropriate or expired drugs to downright veterinary negligence. While several issues exist regarding pharmaceuticals (expired drugs, use of non-pharmaceutical chemicals as drugs, etc.), one example will suffice to illustrate the severity of violations in this area.  The records for sheep #534 indicate that this animal suffered from fever, lack of appetite, abdominal bloat, and decreased fecal output on the 3rd and 4th days following surgery.  However, veterinary staff was not notified, and on the 5th day following surgery this sheep was found dead.  While it is impossible to know if this sheep could have been saved with proper veterinary care, the fact that no one was even notified of the need for care is a clear case of negligence. Veterinary records for several other sheep indicate that pain relieving medications were not administered properly, likely causing them to experience pain unnecessarily. Other issues involving inadequate veterinary care include a pig with an untreated skin lesion, and a piglet with an untreated abdominal hernia.

The IACUC at UPA is clearly not performing in an effective manner, allowing experimentation to be conducted in an unlawful fashion. UPAís research protocols do not include any evidence of searches for alternatives to painful procedures (as required by the AWA), and other protocols are not even being reviewed on a regular basis.  Paralytic drugs have been used without anesthesia.  Two examples will suffice to illustrate the severity of these issues.  One protocol involved alpha-mannosidosis in kittens.   This disease can have neurological, muscular, and skeletal consequences potentially leading to death.  Appropriate methods of euthanasia for these suffering animals are not even discussed. Another protocol discusses depriving cats and ferrets of sleep for up to 10 hours at a time, without addressing the potential for distress in these animals.

The violations at UPA are serious in nature due to their potential for further compromising scientifically shaky research protocols as well as the obvious implications of improper care for the animals.  Many of these issues show up as repeat violations, and therefore, illustrate the callous and indifferent attitude of UPA staff to both scientific method and animal care regulations.

Please write to the President of the University of Pennsylvania to protest this institutionís ongoing flouting of the Animal Welfare Act  

President Amy Gutmann
Office of the President
100 College Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104-638
(215) 898-7221
(215) 898-9659 (fax)
[email protected]


Go on to SAEN Exposes Federal Violations inside Covance and Merck Laboratories
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