U of Pittsburgh Punishes Own Researchers After Animal Death, Putting Live Animals in Carcass Containers, Dumpster; Watchdog Group Files USDA Complaint

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 8, 2014
Contact: Michael Budkie 513-703-9865 saen@saenonline.org
 
U of Pittsburgh Punishes Own Researchers After Animal Death, Putting Live Animals in Carcass Containers, Dumpster; Watchdog Group Files USDA Complaint
 
PITTSBURGH, PA  –  The University of Pittsburgh – taking a step that is extremely rare in U.S. research institutions – has fined three of its researchers for failing to do their duty which led to an animal's death, and putting live animals in carcass containers, according to a national research watchdog group.

SAEN, which monitors the nation's research facilities, said there were more than a dozen major incidents at the university, and others – live animals found in carcass bags and a dumpster – not even covered by applicable federal laws. Two university researchers were fined for putting the live mice in carcass containers.

SAEN has filed a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture complaint against the University of Pittsburgh for multiple incidents in which animals did not receive pain relief, or veterinary care, including the one in which the university fined one of its own researchers.

According to federal reports, another University of Pittsburgh veterinarian – in a Dept. of Defense study – failed to document care for a goat with dislocated kneecaps who was unable to stand; research staff failed to observe the animal for days – ultimately leading to the goat being killed. University of Pittsburgh administration ultimately penalized the researcher.

Other reports document failure to provide pain relief or veterinary care to rabbits and primates.

But incidents not addressed in the complaint, because they are relevant to excluded species, may be more shocking than those discussed in the complaint.

Additional federal reports document animal deaths due to failure to provide food or water, and the discovery of living animals in carcass bags and a dumpster, but these incidents of negligence are not covered in the USDA complaint because certain species (rats, mice, etc.) are excluded from protection by the Animal Welfare Act.

All told federal reports document over 13 major incidents of failed animal care at the University of Pittsburgh in approximately one year.

"Not only is University of Pittsburgh staff so negligent that they have been punished by their own administration, they can't seem to remember to provide food, water, or pain relief to animals," said Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T., Executive Director, SAEN.

"Additionally, they seem to have difficulty telling if animals are alive or dead. This doesn't exactly inspire confidence in their 'science."

The federal reports and SAEN's Official Complaints are available upon request from SAEN.

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