Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer
Director, USDA, Eastern Region
Please LEVY a MAXIMUM FINE against University of Florida (UF), for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) when UF staff performed unapproved & therefore illegal brain removal surgeries on cats. This behavior must NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Animal rights group claims UF
researchers violated federal law
By Romy Ellenbogen, Alligator.org, February 2, 2017
An animal rights group has accused UF researchers of violating federal law after they cut into the brains of live cats without authorization.
In procedures that took place in 2014, the researchers placed seven cats under anesthesia before removing large chunks of their brains, according to an incident report ﬁled with UF’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
The procedures were part of research to aid in pneumonia treatments in humans, wrote UF spokesperson Janine Sikes in an email. But the researchers weren’t authorized to perform the procedures, the report states.
The group, Stop Animal Exploitation Now, ﬁled a federal complaint Jan. 24 against UF on allegations it claims violate the Animal Welfare Act, said the group’s leader Michael Budkie. The complaint was ﬁled with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The group requested reports from UF researchers that discussed the unauthorized procedure, which then spurred the legal action. The procedures were approved prior to 2014, the report states.
Once the researchers’ error was noted, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee met in 2016 and determined the “problem was an oversight.” The procedures were approved prior to 2014.
“This is something that we consider to be Frankensteinian in nature,” Budkie said, “and then we see that for seven of the cats involved in this, in this gruesome procedure, the procedure itself was not even approved.”
According to the report, the incident was an isolated case resulting from researchers not reviewing protocol. The report stated no UF employees were reprimanded.
Sikes said UF is committed to following federal animal research laws, and that UF self-reports incidents.
“Additionally, the university also took appropriate measures to prevent recurrence, which may have included additional training, updating protocols and disciplining employees or students,” Sikes said.
Budkie said he hopes to see UF receive the maximum ﬁne of $10,000 per infraction per animal.
“This could be a very signiﬁcant ﬁling,” Budkie said.
Budkie said the cat research didn’t apply to humans. In a report from the study, which Budkie said he received, investigators said the system was unique and differed from the animal’s biology.
“That means that this research is not worth, literally, not worth the paper that it’s printed on,” Budkie said.
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