USDA looks into complaint against OSU after rabbit 'improperly euthanized' with rifle

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Tell the USDA to levy a HUGE FINE against Oklahoma State University for murdering a rabbit with a .22 caliber rifle.

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USDA looks into complaint against OSU after rabbit 'improperly euthanized' with rifle

By Dylan Goforth,, Thursday, January 8, 2015 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is looking into a complaint filed against Oklahoma State University alleging that a campus facility manager euthanized a research rabbit improperly by shooting it with a rifle.

The complaint, filed with the USDA by an Ohio-based watchdog group called Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, was authored after one of two rabbits suffering from Coccidiosis, a communicable intestinal disease, was euthanized without proper veterinary oversight in August.

An email from OSU to the National Institute of Health, which funds animal research around the nation, said the facility manager took the two rabbits from a breeder to obtain a diagnosis for their sickness. When one of the animals was found non-responsive, it was shot with a .22-caliber rifle, according to the email.

Only the school’s attending veterinarian is authorized to euthanize an animal, according to a USDA inspection report.

Additionally, the rabbits were improperly housed, the USDA declared in its report. The sick animals should not have been housed with healthy animals.

Gary Shutt, director of communications at OSU, said the school reported the incident to the U.S. Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare and the USDA.

“The agencies were satisfied with the corrective actions taken by OSU and determined that no further action was needed,” Shutt said in a prepared statement. “OSU regrets its error in protocol and has addressed the seriousness of the incident with the employee involved. It also conducted re-training with the employee and other staff members.”

OSU also reported to the NIH in August that a dog being used in research in North Carolina by an OSU researcher was run over and killed. The dog was undergoing military training to study physiological responses to heat and exercise when it was struck by a vehicle driven by someone with no relation to the school.

Because the dog was being used in research by an OSU employee, the school reported the incident to the NIH, Shutt said.

“It really had nothing to do with us,” Shutt said of the dog’s death. “And though our researcher was there, the death had nothing to do with the researcher, either.”

The email from OSU to the NIH stated the driver who struck the dog was fired by his employer for not following protocol.

“OSU supports the use of animals in research, teaching and testing activities,” Shutt said in a statement. “It takes the responsibility associated with these activities very seriously. … Many of the advances in the prevention and treatment of animal and human diseases are the direct result of animal research. OSU will continue to work to improve the health and well-being of animals and humans through its diverse research programs.”

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