Animal rights group files complaint against UF
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now

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Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer
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Please LEVY a MAXIMUM FINE against University of Florida (UF), for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) when UF staff allowed a goat to die of a broken neck. This behavior must NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

 

Animal rights group files complaint against UF
From Daniel Smithson, Gainesville.com, June 4, 2019

An animal rights group has filed a federal complaint against the University of Florida, while calling on the university to review its use of animals in research after several unusual incidents, including one in which mice were steamed to death.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now, a Ohio-based animal rights group, complained May 29 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a letter that said UF had violated the Animal Welfare Act. The complaint detailed a Sept. 16 incident in which a goat broke its neck while caught in a narrow fence, according to an Oct. 9 Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) report. The animal was euthanized.

The incident was deemed an accident, according to the report by the IACUC, which oversees animal research at UF, and the fence and paddock areas were repaired to avoid future incidents. The accident was unrelated to the goat’s research role.

However, incident reports the animal rights group sent to UF President Kent Fuchs show other recent unusual incidents with research animals.

IACUC reported incidents from the past year that show animals in the university’s research labs had their necks broken or other limbs paralyzed by lacerations, were accidentally burned by fire and boiled in a sanitation machine.

On July 25, two mice were sent through a cage wash and died.

On Oct. 5, a research technician autoclaved, or steam-cleaned, a shipping container with four mice inside. The autoclave machines can get up 300 degrees.

The animal rights group, led by executive director Michael Budkie, feels the incident shows negligence.
“One of the points that we’re trying to make here is if the staff at the University of Florida can’t even check to see if there are mice in cages before the (cages’) sterilization, then why should they be scientists?” Budkie said.

An investigation was initiated in November after a research laboratory incident during which a rat was accidentally set on fire after it received an anesthetic.

On Oct. 22, a researcher was performing a craniotomy on a rat, according to an IACUC incident report. The researcher had been cauterizing on the back of the rat’s head about an hour into the surgery and then noticed a flame coming from the rat’s nose cone. An autopsy later showed the rat had some facial swelling from the flame’s heat. The rat was euthanized.

The incident report noted the researcher had performed the procedure at least 50 times, though it didn’t say what the researcher was studying in those surgeries. The lab was required to meet with an engineering team to review its surgical and anesthetic set up, the proper use of a cauterizer and procedures to ensure human and animal safety.

“This indicates a level of negligence and UF’s belief that animals are entirely disposable,” he said.

UF officials had not made a response to The Sun’s inquiries about the complaints by early Tuesday evening.

As of 2014, 1,700 animals were used in research, education and experimentation at UF, including 278 dogs.

UF in the late 1980s conducted dog-drowning experiments designed to test the Heimlich maneuver that were eventually halted after much protest.

Tuesday, UF spokesman Steve Orlando called UF’s current use of animals in research “limited.”

Animal research is governed by either the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Welfare Act or the National Institute of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.

The USDA covers all warm-blooded vertebrates. The NIH OLAW covers rats, mice, birds and cold-blooded animals.

Animals used in agricultural research are not covered by any federal agency, and thus no public information is available on cows, horses, pigs and other animals that are part of research at UF’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Each researcher who wants to use animals in their experiments must go before the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, a panel made up of scientists, veterinarians and fellow researchers and at least one member of the community.

The panel reviews research protocols and has the researchers explain why a particular animal is the correct model for their research, describe the project in detail, and explain how it advances science. The key is providing a “scientific rationale” for their research.

An updated number of animals used in research at UF was not readily available Tuesday. Records involving animal research are often kept private, due to animal rights groups in the past harassing researchers.

UF successfully campaigned to get the Florida Legislature to exempt researchers’ names from public records requests about research, so the names of employees involved in the incidents cited by the animal rights group were not available. Access to labs and animal housing is restricted.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Budkie said the USDA and UF have not responded to his complaint or letter.

“From our experience, UF thinks if they ignore a situation, it will just go away,” he said.

Lyndsay Cole, assistant director of public affairs for the USDA Animal and Plant Inspection Service, said in an email she wasn’t familiar with SAEN’s complaint as of Tuesday evening but that the agency takes complaints seriously.

“Many of the specifics of each complaint, as well as how they are addressed and how long it takes for us to look into it, depend on the complaint itself,” Cole wrote. “If a complaint identifies a new issue that is a direct threat to the safety or health of animals, we look into it as soon as possible.”

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