Complaint targets OSU animal tests
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now



Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Western Region, USDA
(970) 494-7478
[email protected] 
[email protected] 


Please levy the MAXIMUM FINE against Oregon State University for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act when they performed illegal and unapproved surgeries on sheep. Their behavior should NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Complaint targets OSU animal tests
Bennett Hall,, February 21, 2019

An animal rights group is asking the federal government to penalize Oregon State University over mishandled animal experiments conducted at the College of Agricultural Sciences in 2017.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now! filed a formal complaint on Jan. 7 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeking penalties of $10,000 per infraction per animal.

The complaint is based on an August 2018 letter obtained by SAEN, an Ohio-based animal rights watchdog, through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The letter, from then-OSU Vice President for Research Cynthia Sagers to the compliance director of the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare at the National Institutes of Health, details multiple violations of animal experimentation rules in connection with five surgeries performed on sheep in November 2017.

OSU alerted the federal agency to the violations in a phone call in April 2018.

The surgeries involved collecting uterine tissue from ewes for a study of ovarian hormone function. According to the university, all of the animals survived the procedures with no post-operative complications.

The surgeries were performed by a faculty member and student anesthetist whose names were not listed on the research protocol, and two of the procedures took place after the protocol had expired. In addition, the letter states, records of the surgeries were incomplete or unavailable, and the faculty member broke departmental rules in obtaining drugs used in the procedures.

OSU’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee temporarily barred the faculty member from performing animal surgeries. On March 15, after the faculty member attended a one-day conference and wrote a letter to the committee documenting better understanding of policies and procedures, the suspension was lifted and the faculty member was placed on probation for a year.

Less than a week later, the committee learned that the faculty member had failed to disclose information about two noncompliant surgeries on sheep. This time, the faculty member was given a one-year suspension from participating in any live animal surgeries or related procedures.

OSU spokesman Steve Clark pointed out that the university self-reported the violations and took steps to correct the problem.

“Since these actions were taken by the university, the federal Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare said in August 2018 that it had determined that OSU had implemented sufficient measures to correct this matter and prevent its recurrence,” Clark said in a prepared statement.

Clark declined to provide the faculty member’s name, saying “the university does not publicly discuss personnel matters.”

Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN, called the violations serious and said the OSU researchers have demonstrated a disregard for the law.

“If they are willing to ignore so many legal requirements,” he said in an email to the newspaper, “why should we believe they are doing anything that even roughly resembles science?”

Budkie, whose organization has called for an end to all experimentation on animals, called the practice “scientifically and ethically flawed” because it disregards physiological differences between animals and humans and overlooks the suffering of nonhuman test subjects.

“Animals are sentient beings who can feel pain, suffer from stress and express emotions,” he said. “These things must not be ignored.”

SAEN sent a letter to OSU President Ed Ray calling for an internal investigation into the noncompliant surgeries and a permanent ban on the faculty member and student involved in the procedures.

Clark said no such steps were being contemplated by OSU officials.

“While I am not able to talk about the specifics of this matter involving employees or students, we are confident that this matter has been appropriately evaluated, dealt with and fully concluded,” he said.

According to the most recent annual report on the USDA website, Oregon State University held 230 animals in fiscal year 2015 for teaching, research, experimental or testing purposes. The tally included six dogs, 24 guinea pigs, four hamsters, 34 sheep, eight pigs and 154 animals described as “other farm animals.”

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