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

Media Coverage

Animal mistreatment documented at labs

By Chris Knight
Issue date: 9/19/08

An inspection report by the United States Department of Agriculture has documented cases of animal mistreatment in laboratories at Lehigh University.

The inspection reports, which were provided to The Brown and White by the animal welfare group Stop Animal Exploitation Now, include reports on botched surgeries on animals, animals dying while being deprived of food and improperly documented proposals for animal procedures.

The non-profit group, which is based in Ohio, obtained the inspection reports through Freedom of Information Act requests from the USDA, which regulates laboratory testing of animals.

The six inspections, conducted between Feb. 15 in 2006 to Aug. 21 of last year, were all from routine inspections of the facilities. The animal species being tested was not reported in five of the inspections, although hamsters were mentioned in one report.

Dina Silver, director of marketing communications for Lehigh, wrote in an e-mail that no Lehigh research efforts have ever been halted as a result of inspection, and any issues identified in the past have been corrected. As recently as Wednesday, she said, Lehigh had an unannounced visit by a USDA investigator and received no non-compliance citations. A report from March of 2008 also showed no citations, Silver said.

"Lehigh is dedicated to the humane care and use of animals and is fully committed to complying with all provisions of the Animal Welfare Act and other Federal statutes and regulations related to animals," she said in the e-mail.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now executive director Michael Budkie said that based on the reports, he thinks there are serious problems within Lehigh's research facilities. The reports, Budkie said, do not include any information on whether the university was fined for the violations.

"In most instances, it's a slap on the wrist type of thing," Budkie said. "Despite the fact that laboratories are violating the laws more and more, it appears that the USDA is doing less about it."

Budkie said that the number of violations at laboratories in the United States has increased by 90 percent in the last five years.

One of the violations at Lehigh occurred on an inspection on June 12 of 2006, during which records were found that animals had died while being deprived of food. The Lehigh researcher, however, told the inspector that the food deprivation had caused no problems in the animals, the inspection said.

Another of the violations was conducting surgery on nine animals prior to approval by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which was found on May 11 of 2006. The nine animals survived. During other surgeries found during this inspection, however, four animals died and were found not to have been sufficiently monitored and provided with adequate veterinary care following their surgery, the inspection said. 

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