Education Insider: Ohio Wesleyan research skirts animal rules
By Charlie Boss and Collin Binkley, Dispatch.com, May 6, 2015
Ohio Wesleyan University failed to review whether animals are treated humanely in campus research, and one researcher replicated traumatic spinal-cord injuries on guinea pigs without documenting whether alternative procedures were considered, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service found in a routine inspection last month that the school’s committee on animal research hadn’t documented reviews of campus animal research or submitted semi-annual reports in recent history, both of which are federal requirements. The USDA reported the same problems in 2012.
USDA inspectors also found that the guinea pigs’ spinal-cord injuries “can be expected to cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress,” but there were no records that a researcher had checked whether there was an alternative. The USDA required such a consideration by last Friday.
An Ohio animal-welfare group filed a complaint with the USDA this week asking for further investigation.
“Investigators at Ohio Wesleyan are apparently functioning with virtually no supervision and not even bothering to determine if they actually need to use animals,” said Michael A. Budkie, the executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now, which is based near Cincinnati.
University officials said they are remedying the problems.
“It is important to note that the USDA did not report any concerns with the research in question or the care of animals, only that additional written protocols were necessary,” university spokesman Cole Hatcher said in a statement. “The mandated reviews already were being completed by researchers and by the university, and our written reports will state this explicitly moving forward.”
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