Contact the USDA to DEMAND MAXIMUM FINE against Lehigh University:
Please LEVY a MAXIMUM FINE against this repeat violator, Lehigh University, for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) when their negligence killed a hamster, denied food/water to another hamster, and their administration failed to follow the AWA and investigate the incident in a timely manner.
Dead hamster prompts call to end animal research at Lehigh
By Jim Deegan, LehighValleyLive.com, January 20, 2016
An animal research watchdog group that criticized Lehigh University for its treatment of two hamsters has asked the university president to launch an internal investigation and ban future animal tests.
Michael A. Budkie, executive director of the the Ohio-based group Stop Animal Exploitation Now, sent a letter Tuesday to Lehigh President John D. Simon.
"While this evaluation is being performed, please keep in mind that animals are not simply objects to be utilized however we see fit," Budkie wrote. "Instead, these are sentient beings whose lives matter to them, belong to them, and should not be ended or altered merely to meet human ends."
SAEN called out Lehigh last week after its review of federal documents found that Lehigh reported two instances to the federal government in which research hamsters had been mistreated.
In the first incident last March, a hamster was deprived of food or water for 36 hours. In April, researchers euthanized a hamster using carbon dioxide and placed it in a plastic bag in a freezer. The animal was later found outside the bag, Budkie said, after it awakened and tried to escape.
In a July 2015 letter to the National Institutes of Health, a Lehigh administrator disclosed that as a result of its findings, officials had relieved the research facility director of his duties as chairman of the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee, an internal review board.
Lehigh also barred two people involved from its animal research facility, but SAEN said its responses didn't go far enough.
SAEN said everyone involved in the incidents should be permanently barred from using animals.
The group, which monitors research facilities nationwide, also asked Lehigh to consider eliminating animal experiments altogether "in favor of investigating cutting edge technology, including 3-dimensional bio-printing, organ-on-a-chip technology, etc."
Lehigh has not said what the hamsters were used for, and its self-reporting of the incidents does not shed any light on that.
A university spokeswoman was not immediately available Wednesday morning to comment on SAEN's letter and its requests.
Last week, spokeswoman Lauren Weaver said Lehigh had reported the incidents on its own and received assurances from the National Institutes of Health of its responses to the incidents.
"(The federal Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare) expressed satisfaction with the corrective actions regarding these incidents," she said. "Lehigh University remains committed to protecting the safety, health and welfare of all animals."
SAEN filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging Lehigh violated regulations regarding personnel, animal handling and veterinary care. It is urging the maximum penalty of $10,000 per infraction, per animal.
In his letter Tuesday, Budkie said SAEN believes "a progressive university such as Lehigh has an obligation not only to act ethically, but also to prepare your students for their own future in the best possible way, by exposing them to cutting-edge technology, which will prepare them for scientific professions on the frontiers of scientific achievement."
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