Group files animal-welfare complaint against Nationwide Children’s over pig
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now



Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer
Director, USDA, Eastern Region
(919) 855-7100
[email protected] 
[email protected] 


Please LEVY a MAXIMUM FINE against the Nationwide Children's Hospital (Columbus) for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) when their negligence killed a pig in a botched medical procedure. This behavior must NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Group files animal-welfare complaint against Nationwide Children’s over pig
From JoAnne Viviano,, May 28, 2019

An animal welfare group has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate and fine the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus over a pig that had to be euthanized in March after a surgery broke protocol in a federally funded project.

The pig, which developed sepsis, likely suffered pain and distress, and the incident may violate several sections of the federal Animal Welfare Act, said Michael Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, or SAEN, based in southwest Ohio.

His group is asking for fines of $10,000 per infraction.

“People should be concerned about this even if they don’t care about the animals because taxpayers are footing the bill for this project,” Budkie said. ”... This animal death was totally unnecessary, and that has to create questions about the science at this institution.”

In an April 1 letter notifying the federal Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare of the breach, Nationwide Children’s says the researcher involved was removed from working with animals pending review by the hospital’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which established the protocols that were broken.

Nationwide Children’s says the research in question received funding from the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, but does not indicate the amount of the funding.

Dr. Dennis Durbin, chief scientific officer at Nationwide Children’s, writes in the letter to NIH that the research involves the engineering of intestinal tissue as a possible treatment for necrotizing enterocolitis. The condition, in which the lining of the intestinal wall dies, primarily affects premature babies and kills up to 40 percent of infants who suffer from it, according to NIH.

Nationwide Children’s spokeswoman Gina Bericchia called the protocol breach an isolated incident and said the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare accepted the hospital’s self-reported plan and closed the case.

“Animal research is necessary for medical progress, including our work to define new treatments for childhood diseases like muscular dystrophy, congenital heart disease and pediatric cancer,” she said. “Historically, animal research has led to the elimination of polio, smallpox, rabies, and measles as public health threats.”

The “significant deviation” from protocol happened on Feb. 28 when a researcher improperly inserted a device in a pig’s intestines instead of its abdominal wall and then created a bypass to avoid narrowing of the intestine, Durbin says in the NIH letter. There was a leak at the surgical site, and the pig developed sepsis and was euthanized on March 3, according to an NIH document provided by SAEN.

Durbin’s letter says the researcher was required to complete online courses on laboratory animal science and will be supervised while working with animals for three months. Any serious violations by the researcher over the next year are to be reported directly to Durbin.

Nationwide Children’s would not identify the researcher involved.

Budkie said the temporary sidelining of a researcher is rare and makes it clear that Nationwide Children’s took the situation seriously. Still, he said, translating animal research to humans is often problematic, and failing to follow protocol further places the scientific validity of the project into question.

Animal studies are highly controlled, and such incidents are unfortunate but rare, said Jim Newman, a spokesman for the Washington-based Americans for Medical Progress, which supports the humane use of animals in medicine.

He said Nationwide Children’s demonstrated “a serious commitment to its research animals” by quickly identifying and reporting the problem.

“Animals are only involved in research when necessary,” Newman said in an email. “Therefore, we also think it is important to consider why these pigs are being studied in the first place. It’s a line of research that could literally save lives.”

See also: Return to Media Coverage