Vanderbilt Medical Center updates lab protocol after dozens of mice starve
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now

Action Alert:


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


Please LEVY a MAXIMUM FINE against Vanderbilt University, for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) when Vanderbilt staff allowed 19 gerbils to die. This behavior must NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.


Vanderbilt Medical Center updates lab protocol after dozens of mice starve
From Jueun Choi,, 21, 2019

Vanderbilt University has committed to revising their laboratory practices after nearly two dozen animals died last year due to negligence.

Letters provided by Stop Animal Exploitation Now and sent to the National Institutes of Health from John F. Manning Jr., Vanderbilt Medical Center's chief operation officer, detail several incidents from April and May 2018 in which gerbils and mice starved to death due to laboratory staff failing to recognize the absence of food and water in their cages.

A Vanderbilt spokesperson said Thursday that the university self-reported the incidents in January.

Reports also show Vanderbilt violated protocol by breeding certain types of mice without approval, and failing to use the correct form of anesthesia or sterilized equipment during surgeries on the animals.

Another report describes how four crates of mice were inadvertently loaded onto the wrong cart and tossed into the trash. They were then accidentally placed in a trash compactor and could not be found after employees discovered what happened.

In a letter to Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos, Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN, asked for the school to "permanently terminate animal use privileges for a number of Vanderbilt lab staff."

SAEN said it filed a federal complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture against Vanderbilt in May 2019. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the section of the USDA that deals with animal welfare grievances, said they have no record of the complaint, but acknowledged that it may not have been fully processed yet.

Budkie said the actions by these lab employees violated the Animal Welfare Act, which mandates "the principal investigator considers alternatives to any procedure likely to produce pain to or distress in an experimental animal."

In its reports to NIH, Vanderbilt detailed how they would avoid repeating these incidents going forward, including retraining their staff, updating their procedures to include sterilized equipment and suspending the principal investigator and three laboratory staff members involved.

"The time to train staff is not after there's been an incident," said Budkie. "The time to train is before anything happens."

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