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Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!
S. A. E. N.
"Exposing the truth to wipe out animal experimentation"

Media Coverage

Animal rights group ranks UNR lab worst in nation

June 09, 2005


RENO, Nev. (AP) - An animal rights group has ranked the University of Nevada, Reno's animal research lab as the worst in the nation after it was cited with 46 violations of U.S. animal welfare regulations.

The Agriculture Department fined the university $11,400 last month for the violations, including mistreatment of pigs and sheep, improper oversight of research animals and substandard animal care facilities.

"These were very serious charges," said Michael Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, based in Milford, Ohio.

"In our opinion, the $11,000 fine they received was far too small," he said Thursday by telephone.

Last year, the group ranked the University of California-San Francisco as the worst lab nationally because it had been cited 51 times over a three-year period for violating the Animal Welfare Act.

"UNR eclipsed that in just a period of months, so we are naming them as the worst lab. They essentially tripled the UCSF record, which is quite an accomplishment," Budkie said.

UNR officials said the ranking is unwarranted and that the school already has taken steps to address most of the problems cited by the Department of Agriculture.

"USDA made it very clear to us they made no finding of animal abuse," UNR Provost John Frederick said Thursday.

"If you read the findings, they are things like small irregularities in facilities and a couple of procedural things we can clean up. They are not things that lead one to believe animals have been grossly mistreated here," he said.

"If there had been that kind of finding, the fine would not have been $11,000 but would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars," he said.

Frederick said he was not familiar with the group, other than that "one of their goals is basically to shut down animal research.

"I don't know what to say to a group like that. I think animal research benefits lots of people, including animals," he said.

Budkie, an animal health technician trained at the University of Cincinnati, said he has been working on animal lab issues since 1986 and incorporated the group in 1996.

His group said other schools with more than 30 violations over the past three years are University of Florida, 47; University of Connecticut, 43; University of Pennsylvania, 36; University of Puerto Rico, 33; and Johns Hopkins, 31.

"We've been watching this whole thing now for awhile at UNR. Clearly UNR is trying to downplay this thing and make it sound like it's no big deal," Budkie said.

The violations at UNR included repeatedly leaving 10 research pigs with inadequate water and housing, frequent poor sanitation at animal care facilities and a lack of veterinary care.

UNR professor Hussein S. Hussein has filed a lawsuit against university officials - including UNR President John Lilley - accusing them of orchestrating reprisals and trying to fire him since he complained to the USDA last summer about the alleged abuse of research animals, including the deaths of dozens of sheep.

The USDA investigation began last year after the Reno Gazette-Journal reported on research at the school, finding that 38 pregnant sheep died in October 2002 in a locked paddock in which they were kept without food or water for three days.

This story ran in the Akron Beacon Journal (OH), The Stamford Advocate (CT), The Las Vegas Sun (NV), the Las Vegas Herald (NV), the Chicago Tribune (IL), The Greenwich Time (CT), and Newsday Magazine (NY). The story was also picked up by KRNV-TV (Reno), KESQ- TV (CA), WFSB-TV (CT), and KMV Radio (NV).

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