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

Articles and Reports

The Worst Laboratories in the United States

The animal experimentation controversy excites strong emotions on both sides of the debate. However, one aspect which is often neglected is the relative level of actual animal care which animals receive within laboratories, as well as the level to which experimentation is carried out with regard to federal laws.

The only method for providing an objective assessment based on the relative occurrence of improper care and non-compliance with federal laws is a numerical summation of all violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA - the only piece of federal legislation which regulates animal experimentation).

Therefore, an assessment of this data has been performed, and the results are compiled in a table which follows this introduction. The data for this table is derived from USDA inspection reports for a nine-month period during 2005. This table categorizes violations into several categories, which are: veterinary care, personnel (meaning inadequate or untrained personnel), handling, environmental enhancement (relative to primates), food and water, housing facilities, Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC) the body within a facility that approves experimental procedures and enforces the AWA internally.

This table also totals the number of repeat violations and direct violations. While the repeat designation is fairly self-explanatory (important because only after a non-compliance has been repeated 3 times will the USDA take enforcement action) direct violations need some explanation. Direct violations are non-compliances which have a direct concrete impact on the lives of animals. However, the use of this category is inconsistent and therefore, this category is something less than reliable. For example, with regard to an incident which occurred at the University of Pennsylvania in which a sheep died as a result of lack of veterinary care, this incident was not listed as direct. Therefore, this designation is incomplete at best. The only thing that can be said is that direct violations are very severe, but a lack of direct violations may not mean that a laboratory didnít have any serious violations.

This listing is comprised of 15 colleges/universities and 6 corporations. While the intention is to list the top 20 labs, a 3-way tie for 19th occurred, and so this list contains 21 facilities.

The most conspicuous issues which arrive from this tabulation is the high level of violations in the areas of veterinary care 68 (3 per facility average), housing/facilities 108 (5 per facility average) and IACUC 131 (6 per facility average). When this information is extrapolated to account for an entire year, and averaged, we reach a laboratory that violates federal law 22 times per year, or almost every other week. This clearly indicates that the Animal Welfare Act is essentially ignored by some of our nationís best known colleges, universities, and private laboratories.

It is also clear from this data that the overwhelming majority of the laboratories in question are in the eastern half of the U.S. This is not surprising, since the USDA Office of the Inspector General charged, in 2005 (in Animal Care Inspection and Enforcement Activities) that the Eastern Regional Office of USDA/APHIS/AC was not enforcing the Animal Welfare Act effectively.

Additionally, the largest single group of these laboratories exists within the state of Massachusetts. It is also interesting to note that while Harvard comes in second nationally, that 4 of the other worst labs are affiliated with Harvard (namely Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham & Womenís Hospital, McLean Hospital, and the Schepens Eye Research Institute). Apparently research officials at Harvard and their affiliated facilities do not see enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act as a high priority.

SAENís previous report on this same topic, Breaking the Law: Animal Care in U.S. Labs contains a similar list of facilities that break the law regularly. Several names continue from one period to the next: the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Connecticut, Charles River laboratories, the University of Wisconsin, and Harvard. These laboratories have exhibited a clear long-term pattern of violating federal law. The existence of a long-term pattern of non-compliance with federal law is an indictment of both the facilities that break the law, as well as the agency charged with the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act.

The table which lists the worst labs along with the violations which they incurred follows this summary.

See: The Top 20 Violators of the Animal Welfare Act

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