Southwest Bio-Labs, Inc., Las Cruces, NM

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Southwest Bio-Labs, Inc., Las Cruces, NM
Letter of Complaint to USDA - 5 Mar 2012


1081-B St. Rt. 28 #280
Milford, Ohio 45150


Dr. Robert Gibbens 3/4/12
Director, Western Region
2150 Center Ave.
Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117

Dr. Gibbens,

I am contacting you today because I am outraged by the recent cruel and unnecessary deaths of ten cats at the Southwest Bio-labs (85-R-0015) of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

A December, 2011, USDA inspection report for this facility cites the lab for inadequate indoor housing facilities. The incident which took place occurred in October of 2011. Apparently a thermostat malfunctioned and caused temperatures in a room which housed cats to rise precipitously. The excessive heat caused ten cats to die.

It is clear that this facility also committed violations of several additional portions of the Animal
Welfare Act. While the facility was cited for a violation of Section 3.2 Indoor Housing Facilities, I believe that several other sections of the AWA were violated, including: Section 2.33 Adequate Veterinary Care, which includes requirements for adequate observation of animals. Additionally, Section 2.32 Personnel Qualifications – providing qualified personnel to care for animals, etc.

It is clear from this inspection report that the cats in this facility were not adequately observed, they
were not protected from injury, and the facilities in which they were housed were grossly inadequate.

Therefore, in light of the direct nature of this violation, in light of the fact that this violation took the lives of 10 cats, I hereby insist that the Western Regional Office of the Animal & Plant Inspection Service immediately initiate the process necessary to levy a substantial fine against Southwest Biolabs. I am aware that fines can be issued in the amount of $10,000 per violation, and that in some instances; this can be multiplied by the number of animals affected by the violation. In light of the seriousness of the fatal nature of this non-compliance, I urge you to utilize the per animal option, and issue a fine of $10,000 per animal killed in this situation, or a minimum of $100,000 based on the single violation which has already been issued and the ten animals it affected.

I expect that your office will reply to this correspondence within five business days.

Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T.,
Executive Director, SAEN
Attachments: USDA Inspection Report

CC: Office of the Inspector General

See also:

Rats, mice, birds, amphibians and other animals have been excluded from coverage by the Animal Welfare Act. Therefore research facility reports do not include these animals. As a result of this situation, a blank report, or one with few animals listed, does not mean that a facility has not performed experiments on non-reportable animals. A blank form does mean that the facility in question has not used covered animals (primates, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, pigs, sheep, goats, etc.). Rats and mice alone are believed to comprise over 90% of the animals used in experimentation. Therefore the majority of animals used at research facilities are not even counted.

We welcome your comments and questions