There are rules for a reason

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Please contact the USDA to insist that Georgia Regents University receive the largest fine allowable under the Animal Welfare Act for the negligence which caused the deaths of a pig and denied food to monkeys.

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

There are rules for a reason

By Editorial Staff, Augusta Chronicle, Friday, March 20, 2015

If GRU has run afoul of animal-welfare regulations, stop it and fix it.

Georgia Regents University officials say the animal-research violations federal inspectors noted last month included no “findings of illegal activity or negligence affecting animal welfare at GRU.”

You can take them at their word if you like.

But shouldn’t a university that aspires to be one of the top research institutions in the nation set the accountability bar higher?

The university may in fact be correct in asserting that Animal Welfare Act violations revealed in a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection do not rise to the level of “illegal” or “negligent” treatment.

But that doesn’t mean the animals in their care weren’t needlessly suffering.

Those federal rules are there for a reason, and if researchers don’t know what that reason is, they might want to consider a line of work that doesn’t put them in contact with animals. If GRU broke the rules, shame on the school. The problems must be fixed.

The major violation – the solitary housing of nearly four-dozen primates – appears to be a clear-cut example of poor animal care. Nearly all primates, but especially the 39 macaques in question, have intricate social structures and high-level psychological needs. Keeping them in solitary confinement is tantamount to abuse.

The lesser violations, which included using expired medications during surgeries and maintaining incomplete records on feeding schedules, are nothing to be dismissive about, either. Especially since some of the violations were noted in previous USDA inspections.

The institution relies heavily on animals – though the vast majority of them are non-USDA regulated animals such as rats, mice and cold-blooded animals. But such sloppiness only creates a negative perception and diminishes the role that animal research plays in improving human health.

If GRU is to be taken seriously as a top-tier research institution, it first needs to prove it is serious about the animal-welfare regulations governing its test subjects.

And for USDA inspectors, this message: The next time you’re in town, can we suggest you stop by the Augusta-Richmond County animal shelter? There are no experiments going on there, but you might encounter more suffering.

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