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Media Coverage

Loyola's medical school mistreated animals, reports show

By Jodi S. Cohen | Chicago Tribune reporter

6:20 PM CDT, July 21, 2008

U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections of Loyola University's medical school found numerous violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including improper procedures that resulted in the deaths of rabbits and dogs.

Three inspection reports of Loyola's biomedical research from 2006 and 2007 obtained by an animal rights group under the Freedom of Information Act revealed poor veterinary care, inadequately trained personnel and sloppy record keeping. Rabbits died from bacterial infections, and dogs died after they were not sufficiently monitored after surgery, the agency found.

In an October procedure, a rabbit suffered a fracture during a bone marrow transplant and died the following day, according to the reports. In another case, a rabbit was observed as not doing well on Oct. 3, but laboratory records failed to indicate it was given any treatment or considered for euthanasia before it died Oct. 9.

At least five other rabbits also died from bacterial infections or "significant lesions" after medical procedures, according to a November inspection report.

"We would call them the worst laboratory in the state of Illinois and possibly one of the worst in the nation," said Michael Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now.

His Ohio-based group obtained inspection reports for about 40 Illinois labs, including the three for Loyola's Stritch School of Medicine, he said.

The government's most recent inspection of Loyola's medical school in May found no violations, according to USDA spokeswoman Karen Eggert.

"Any time an animal is in an uncomfortable position or dies, we take that very seriously," Eggert said. "They have corrected their issues."

The USDA did not fine or discipline the school.

Loyola University said in a statement that "treating research animals in a humane fashion is a top priority." Research studies "in which animal health or welfare was at risk" have been discontinued, Loyola spokesman Jim Ritter said.

Loyola laboratory employees did not provide adequate post-operative care of dogs when it left them unmonitored overnight, according to one of theUSDA inspection reports obtained by the animal rights group. During those hours, complications occurred in five of the animals and all of them died by the following day.

The Animal Welfare Act requires regular observation of animals to assess their health.

"Postoperative monitoring and care is essential at regular, predetermined intervals to adequately assess the condition of the animals, especially during the time period following a major surgical procedure," according to the USDA report.

Budkie sent a letter earlier this week to Rev. Michael Garanzini, Loyola's president, asking to be allowed to inspect the labs.

"It is clear that a very serious situation exists at Loyola University, and that this situation has already unnecessarily taken the lives of a significant number of animals," Budkie wrote.

See: Loyola University, Maywood, IL for more information

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