Contact USDA to DEMAND MAX FINE against University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Please levy the MAXIMUM FINE against University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UI), for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act when their negligence killed over 20 animals. 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!
Animal rights group files complaint
By Debra Pressey, News-Gazette.com, October 7, 2016
CHAMPAIGN — An animal rights watchdog group says it has filed a new complaint against the University of Illinois with the USDA in connection with the deaths of 22 animals.
The group Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, which monitors research facilities across the country for violations, said it began looking at the UI more closely after a USDA inspection report last August concerning cattle deaths.
"We felt that was a tip-off that there might be much more systemic problems at the University of Illinois, and that's what the records we found verified," said Michael Budkie, executive director of the animal welfare group.
The USDA launched an investigation at the UI in October 2015 that remains open, according to Tanya Espinosa, a spokeswoman at the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Details of the investigation are confidential, beyond USDA inspection reports that are available for public viewing, she said.
In the latest complaint Budkie filed with the USDA on behalf of his organization concerning the UI, he states he obtained internal records which detail "a high number of animal deaths."
He calls for an investigation of the incidents and asks for the largest fine available under the Animal Welfare Act — $10,000 per violation.
UI College of Veterinary Medicine spokeswoman Chris Beuoy said the university is aware of an ongoing USDA investigation that was opened last fall following the deaths of five cows, but contends there isn't an investigation into any of the deaths newly referenced by SAEN.
She also said the USDA hasn't contacted the UI about SAEN's latest complaint letter.
"If they request a visit, we would welcome that," she said in an email.
According to Budkie, records from last year and this year indicated some of the 22 animal deaths included two rams at the UI that died during a botched surgical lab; a pig that died due to receiving improper food; five pigs that were improperly euthanized; seven calves that died of E. coli, crypto and coronavirus infections; three pigs that died with either sepsis or the bone infection osteomyelitis; and one lamb that died of a drug overdose — plus others that became seriously ill and recovered.
There was also one piglet that died during transport following an MRI and two rabbits that died during a fibrosis study.
"Negligence at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has killed dozens of animals," Budkie said in a statement.
The records of the animal deaths were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request SAEN made Aug. 22 for all reports of adverse events or unforeseen outcomes made to the UI's Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee from Jan. 1, 2015, to the present.
Beuoy said five of the incidents cited involved farm animals.
"As in any farming operation, there is a small number of unexpected animal deaths," she said in an email. "In the three additional incidents mentioned, animals in biomedical research died unexpectedly. The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee meeting minutes show that in each of these situations, we conducted appropriate follow-up and remediation whenever that was appropriate."
According to USDA reports, the most recent routine inspection done at the UI at Urbana-Champaign was in August. It states there weren't any noncompliant items identified, with an inspection of animals and animal facilities conducted Aug. 9 and Aug. 10 and a records review and exit interview conducted with facility representatives Aug. 11.
This was the second complaint SAEN has filed with the USDA against the UI.
The first called for an investigation after five of six cows developed a post-operative condition, with one dying and four others euthanized. The UI self-reported the death of the cattle, Beuoy said.
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