Animal Welfare complaint finds 5 violations at GRU labs

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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
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Raleigh, NC 27606
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Animal Welfare complaint finds 5 violations at GRU labs itle

By, Saturday, April 4, 2015 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released Thursday that Georgia Regents University has violated 5 Animal Welfare Act laws.

The USDA released an inspection report that said primates were illegally deprived social housing, cages were not cleaned thoroughly and expired medications were used during surgery.

In a February 2015 USDA inspection report, it states there was a surgical procedure conducted on pigs where a bag of sodium chloride was being used on one of the pigs on the surgical table. The sodium chloride expired three years ago.

The report states that the primates housing also did not meet requirements. The 2015 USDA report states behind the primates cages a strip between the wall and the cage about 4 inches wide allows moisture to get in but cannot be properly cleaned and sanitized. The inspection report states that needs to be fixed by April 13, 2015.

The 2015 report also notes that in July 2014, a pig was found dead a day after a surgical procedure had been performed, according to the USDA Inspection Report. That incident is currently under review.

The report includes that a new food restriction policy was voted on in 2014. It states that the physical exams in the animal records show a treatment plan to increase the daily intake to allow the primates to gain weight but the records provided and veterinary records are not in agreement.

The USDA also cited GRU with concerns about recordkeeping requirements when it wants to make policy changes.

According to the report, Georgia Regents University should maintain records that include all committee activities and discussions. The report states they must correct that recordkeeping by the March 2015 meeting.

The 2014 USDA report states primates were housed alone. Federal regulations require the primates be caged with others for social reasons. There was no indication from GRU record keeping that the university received exemptions allowing them to house the primates alone, the report says.

The report states research facilities must develop, document and follow a plan to ensure the primates are healthy and happy. In order for the animals to not be housed with other primates, GRU is required to seek an exemption, which must be based on scientific reasons. The USDA has stated the plan needed to be corrected by June 19, 2014.

Then again, in 2015, an inspection report states the school has "minimal records" to show whether or not they housed primates together. It also states there are "minimal records" showing primates getting extra stimulation since they do not get the social interaction they need when they live alone.

In the report, there are six primates living together but it does not appear there is a plan to pair up any of the other primates currently living alone. The individual animal records reviewed do not clearly indicate why these specific animals are housed by themselves.

According to the report from 2015, GRU needs a structured way to evaluate and re-evaluate how primates are housed and socialized. GRU needs to document attempts to house primates together, explain any scientific or veterinary reasons why primates are not being housed together and any additional enrichment they provide the animals.

In 2013, GRU had four citations for similar violations. In one violation involving hamster cages, the GRU logs indicate the hamster cages were cleaned approximately once a month, the report states. Regulations require cages to be sanitized at least once every two weeks.

There were two bottles of expired veterinary cleaning solutions located in an investigator's laboratory space. One bottle expired in February 2013. The other bottle in September 2011. According to the 2014 report, investigator staff confirmed the two bottles were currently being used on the animals. At the inspection, staff discarded the outdated medical solutions.

In the 2014 USDA inspection report of the inspection made on December 17, 2013, there was an excessive amount of dust and debris in the top three primary enclosures.

The USDA requires housing facilities to be kept clean. However, the USDA report also states the facility fixed this violation during the inspection.

A group called 'Stop Animal Exploitation NOW' is insisting that there be an in-depth investigation into GRU and a federal fine. In a complaint written to the United States Department of Agriculture on Thursday, the group accuses GRU of violating the Animal Welfare Act. It also states information from the February 2015 USDA report. The complaint insists their office do an immediate investigation.

Georgia Regents University released a report on Thursday responding to the allegations. It stated that the advocacy group grossly misrepresented the routine USDA site visit findings. The release states the USDA has not issued any fines. GRU has said its Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee carefully vets every use of animals in biomedical research.

According to Georgia Regents University's response released on Thursday, an internal review following the preliminary USDA reports found no instances of negligence affecting animal welfare at any university research facilities.

Christen Carter, Director of Media Relations Georgia Regents University, has said the report is preliminary and a final report is expected to come out.

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