Animal rights group blasts IU med school for killing 100+ lab animals
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now



Dr. Jay L. Hess, Dean,
Indiana University School of Medicine
email: [email protected]

Dean Hess,

Indiana University School of Medicine negligence has killed over 116 animals due to starvation/dehydration, drowning, suffocation, botched medical procedures, etc. In addition to these deaths, there were multiple incidents in which animals were denied adequate pain relief. euthanized improperly using cervical dislocation without anesthesia, severely dehydrated, etc. This carelessness must not be tolerated. You must launch an internal investigation of all Indiana University School of Medicine animal experimentation and terminate all responsible lab staff.


Animal rights group blasts IU med school for killing 100+ lab animals
By, May 14, 2018

An Ohio-based animal rights group is calling upon the Indiana University School of Medicine to fire staff and conduct an independent investigation into 17 different instances in which researchers did not follow laboratory protocol and wound up killing 116 animals and injuring more.

The group Stop Animal Exploitation Now, or SAEN, made a public records request for all correspondence from IU to the National Institute of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare over an 18-month period. The request yielded 17 letters sent from Bloomington to Bethesda that detail a litany of mistakes, from starving mice to performing painful procedures without pain control.

While it’s not uncommon for laboratories to report such lapses in protocol, IU stands out for the sheer number of animal lives lost, said Michael A. Budkie, executive director and founder of SAEN, which would like to see the use of all animals in research eliminated.

“For one facility to have 17 reports in a period of less than two years is excessive. … When you have 116 different animals that have died to starvation, dehydration, drowning and or suffocation, this is very serious,” he said. “I would say it’s certainly in the top 10 percent” of what he’s seen.

Last week SAEN sent a similar letter to officials at the University of Iowa, where 244 animals, including some ferrets, have died in the past two week

Earlier this week Budkie wrote a letter to IUSM officials, asking them to take action to rectify the situation.

In response to SAEN’s charges, Indiana University released a statement, saying that it maintains the highest standards when caring for research animals.

“All cited incidents, which involved mice and rats were self-reported, demonstrating that the university is diligent in monitoring and taking corrective action when necessary,” the IU statement read. “The university and school strive to have no incidents involving laboratory research and continuously assess protocols and procedures to make improvements when possible.”

In addition to complying with NIH rules, the statement said, the university also received two clean reports during recent external site reviews by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and AAALAC International, a private nonprofit that offers accreditation for facilities engaged in research.

IUSM currently has accreditation from AAALAC, which requires a rigorous onsite evaluation, said the organization’s chief executive officer Kathryn Bayne. Accreditation lasts three years and Bayne declined to give specifics of when that accreditation is up for renewal.

But she added the accreditation process is completely voluntary.

“There is no US law that requires they get accredited by our organization,” she said. “That’s a very significant public statement to all stakeholders.”

However, IU deserves no kudos for self-reporting the incidents, Budkie said, as institutions are required to do so. Typically the NIH does little more than rubber stamp such reports, he added.

Many of the incidents mentioned in IU’s letters to the NIH involved faulty equipment. In one incident in August of 2017, faulty water bottles flooded some cages in a laboratory, killing 40 mice. In another instance, staff left three newly weaned mice in a cage without feeding them for a days and the mouse babies died.

At times the university took corrective action, according to the letters sent to the NIH. In one instance in which a scientist had failed to follow protocol and was breaking mouse necks without anesthesia, the university required everyone associated with the trial to undergo additional training and suspended the trial until that occurred.

In other instance, a lab technician received a written warning and was required to undergo training after failing to properly feed and water the rats in the lab. Three animals died due to hypothermia, according to the August 2016 letter.

Even one such mistake is one too many, Budkie said.

“Even if you don’t care about animals, these things are happening in a laboratory that receives significant levels of federal funding and what does it say about the projects that are being federally funded if the staff can’t remember to give them food and water,” he said. “If a facility can’t do basic animal husbandry, why should we believe that they can do science?”

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