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Articles and Reports

Independent assessment of violations of the Animal Welfare Act at the Charles River Laboratories in Wilmington, MA in 2005

Four areas of discussion need to be included as follows:

1) The protection of laboratory animals from needless pain, suffering, anxiety and stress before during and after experimentation.

2) The maintenance of a clean, healthy environment for study animals.

3) The relevance and validity of the study being done.

4) The chain of command and protocol in carrying out the ANIMAL WELFARE ACT at this facility.

After reviewing a number of experiments that were carried out at the Charles River Laboratories during 2005 I find the facility to be in need of revision. Sloppy record keeping, incompetence and apathy appear to be the main problems at the facility.

The chain of command and its ability to carry out the agreement between the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, IACUC, the veterinary staff and the principal investigator, PI, is seriously flawed. It appears that there is a lack of commitment to maintain the best care for animals in this facility. Any animal housed and utilized for laboratory purposes is automatically placed under abnormal stress and anxiety even in the best of conditions.

The inattention to animal welfare is demonstrated in a number of cases:

Dog # 514209 was in need of veterinary care on 8/9/05 and was attended on 8/12/05.

Pig # 16342 was noted 8/9/05. There was no documentation that there was a problem. Eventually the veterinarian was notified and took care of the problem.

On July 25th, 2005 there were experiments that involved drug testing resulting in the death and moribund condition of a number of animals. The way these experiments were carried out created unnecessary pain, suffering and anxiety. Procedures carried out in this manner lead to questionable scientific data retrieval.

The PI was at fault and serious consequences should be considered and utilized to resolve such situations.

Under current regulations the only time a procedure can be utilized that might create pain and suffering, is where the scientific outcome could be affected. I would like to see this changed. Our advancement in computer modeling and simulation should replace the type of experimentation that causes pain and suffering to produce the correct scientific results.

On January 25th 2005, Freundís Complete Adjuvant was used in animals thereby producing a severe immune response. The IACUC did not expect this outcome and the PI did not address the untoward reaction. This led to unnecessary pain, suffering and anxiety. There have to be consequences for actions like this.

There must be a careful review of the facility by the grant funding agencies like NIH, NCI, NSF and others before any money is released. If there is redundancy or if proposals cannot meet high standards then grant funding should be withheld. If the experiment can meet scientific standards without the use of live animals then the granting agency and staff at the facility should encourage installation of approaches using computer modeling and simulation.

Immediate improvements must be installed to remedy problems in the chain of command. This includes health, welfare and maintenance of animals, relief of pain and suffering before, during and after the experimental procedure or procedures, and improvement of general conditions in the facility. Failure to meet humane standards should require outside intervention. This would include review by state and federal agencies in charge and further review by elected officials representing the public.

The Charles River Laboratory facilities are in need of immediate oversight to correct current and ongoing negligence.


Michael A. McCoy, DVM

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