Vanderbilt could face fine for deaths of research pigs

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Please contact the USDA to insist that Vanderbilt University receive the largest fine allowable under the Animal Welfare Act for the negligence which caused two pigs to be unnecessarily injured by radiation.

Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer, Director, USDA, Eastern
Region 920 Main Campus Drive, Suite 2000
Raleigh, NC 27606
[email protected]
[email protected]

Vanderbilt could face fine for deaths of research pigs

By Autumn Allison,, Saturday, February 7, 2015 

Vanderbilt University may face fines thousands of dollars in fines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violation of the Animal Welfare Act in the negligent death of two pigs in an experiment involving multiple doses of radiation.

SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation Now) filed a complaint against Vanderbilt earlier this week with the USDA, which oversees the treatment of research animals, stating that treatment was not provided to the pigs despite documents citing a foul discharge from the eyes and snout and damage to internal organs.

After the deaths of the pigs, the radiotherapy experiment was suspended.

"In the U.S. each year more than 500,000 cancer patients are treated with radiotherapy," John Howser, the assistant vice chancellor for news and communications at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said in a statement to The Tennessean. "The side effects from this treatment can become a major health concern and adversely impact the quality of life for cancer survivors. The research involving these animals was conducted to help identify safer ways to be able to deliver radiation treatments to humans without damaging surrounding skin. Concerning the safety and well-being of animals used in research, Vanderbilt self-reported this event to the National Institutes of Health and remains steadfastly committed to the very highest standards for all research protocols."

If the USDA chooses to levy fines against the university, Vanderbilt might pay as high as $20,000, or $10,000 per infraction/animal, the largest fine allowable by law.

This is not the first time that Vanderbilt's research facilities have had complaints filed for mistreatment of animals.

Vanderbilt has been cited for protocol violations six other times since 2006. Those incidents include improperly mixed experimental compounds being administered to five hamsters and the death of a baby Galago that had been mistakenly tossed into a washing machine with cage bedding.

Fines were imposed for both of those incidents.

The experiment was shut down in January 2014.

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