Contact USDA to DEMAND MAX FINE against Brown University
Please levy the MAXIMUM FINE against Brown University for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act when their negligence caused traumatic injuries to a monkey and also performed unapproved surgical procedures. Their behavior should NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law. The time is NOW to send a clear message with stiff penalties to these negligent facilities that these behaviors will NOT be tolerated!
Brown accused of violating Animal
By Hattie Xu, BrownDailyHerald.com, October 7, 2016
Animal rights organization Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! filed an
official complaint against the University with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture Oct. 2.
SAEN reviewed internal records sent from a University administrator to the National Institutes of Health after submitting a public request for information under the Freedom of Information Act, said Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN. The records documented two incidents that SAEN identifies as violations of the Animal Welfare Act, according to the official complaint.
In an incident reported June 23 to the NIH’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare — a division that reviews protocol violations by NIH-funded institutions — a titanium mesh implant was placed in a rhesus macaque even though an amendment to the procedure was “still under review and not yet approved by the (Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee),” according to the submitted document. During the procedure, anesthesia was administered, and the animal recovered well.
A corrective action plan was later developed in which the “(principal investigator) agreed to not conduct (any procedures) without prior IACUC approval,” according to the document.
The University’s Animal Care Facility is required to record surgery statuses as “tentative” until receiving IACUC approval. The procedure used in the incident was later approved by the IACUC, wrote Brian Clark, director of news and editorial development, in an email to The Herald.
A second incident was reported to OLAW Aug. 9. This case involved “traumatic injuries” to the right pinky finger of a rhesus macaque that eventually necessitated amputation of the finger, as well as a small tongue injury, according to the incident report. The injuries were caused by the improper latching of a cage door by an animal care technician, which allowed the primate to escape. The rhesus macaque was injured during its “interactions with other monkeys housed in the room,” wrote Director of Animal Care Lara Helwig in an email to The Herald.
Corrective actions included disciplinary actions against the technician involved and additional cage-changing training for animal care staff, according to the document.
OLAW investigations into the two incidents have been closed, a representative of the Office wrote in an email to The Herald, adding that the University is “in compliance with the (Public Health Service) Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.”
Both incidents were also reported to the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, the University’s accreditation agency, Clark wrote.
While OLAW investigations have ceased, SAEN has requested a USDA investigation into the University’s research procedures in addition to a mandate that the University pay the maximum penalty of $10,000 per incident per animal, according to the complaint.
“The University staff has demonstrated that they are sufficiently incompetent (and) should not be trusted to use non-human primates,” Budkie said. “If we’re talking about University staff that are not even capable of making sure the enclosures are locked down properly to prevent a monkey from escaping, why should we believe they can do science?”
SAEN ultimately hopes to see the University terminate both research projects, Budkie said. The organization filed an official complaint against the University in 2014, as well.
In general, SAEN advocates the permanent discontinuation of using animals in all laboratories, according to its website. It monitors over 1,100 research facilities and has helped launch 14 active USDA investigations into other laboratories, Budkie said.
The University is reasserting its commitment to animal welfare through putting a “thorough system in place to guide and monitor animal care and use in research,” Vice President for Research David Savitz, who originally reported the incidents to OLAW, wrote in an email to The Herald. Procedures are often reviewed by veterinary staff before they are submitted to the IACUC, which is a team of scientists and non-scientists both affiliated and not affiliated with the University that evaluates procedures and qualifications of the personnel involved in given cases, he added.
All staff members employed by the animal care department are trained in “animal health, animal husbandry and other relevant topics throughout the year,” Savitz wrote. He added that many are also certified technicians by the American Association of Laboratory Animal Science and that there are three full-time veterinarians on the staff.
The University plans to cooperate with any possible investigations, as well as to “be responsive to the agencies that oversee animal care and use and implement any corrective actions necessary to prevent future occurrence,” Savitz wrote.
“As the institutional official responsible for overseeing these activities, I can assure you that I take that duty very seriously,” Savitz wrote, “and (I) am quite confident that staff at Brown are doing all they possibly can to ensure we adhere to the high standards we are obligated to uphold.”
Return to Media Coverage