Allegations of Animal Cruelty Facing USM

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Allegations of Animal Cruelty Facing USM

By, Monday, December 10, 2012

HATTIESBURG  – According to  a report on 10-Dec-2012 by Ed Kemp for  The Hattiesburg American, the animal rights group known as Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, or SAEN, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging negligent treatment of animals by researchers at USM.  As Kemp reports, SAEN executive director Michael Budkie has reported to the USDoA that Southern Miss researchers “have exhibited a continuing multi-month pattern of disregard for the well-being of . . . animals, there (sic) suffering and debilitation.” 

The THA story notes that Budkie learned of the negligence at USM from a Sept-2012 USDoA report on tick research at USM.  Budkie expanded on the comments above about the allegations during an interview with Kemp, stating, “It’s not a pretty picture . . . [it is] some of the worst animal suffering that I have ever had the displeasure to read about.”  As Kemp indicates,

. . . the report noted prolonged tick-feeding of a rabbit that caused large holes in the rabbit’s ears, as well as ear discoloration and rectal bleeding.   There were also examples of rabbits and hamsters suffering anorexia and weight loss.  In one case, a visiting high school student was allowed to assist in the tick harvesting of a rabbit, despite the fact that the ticks carried a pathogen deemed moderately hazardous.  In many of these instances, the research facility violated its own protocols by either having too many ticks on the animals or by allowing the feeding to go for too long.

USM’s response to the allegations of negligence toward animals during tick research  at USM that was funded by the National Institutes of Health was put forth by Gordon Cannon, USM’s vice provost for research.  In an interview with THA’s Kemp, Gordon stated that “[USM’s tick] research is well-respected in the scientific community and important in determining the transmission of disease by ticks.  We regret that the agreed-upon protocols were not followed exactly as outlined.”  USDoA spokesman David Sacks told Kemp that the USDoA will review the evidence and determine if a full investigation (of USM) into violations of The Animal Welfare Act should occur.  As Kemp concludes, the maximum penalty (from the USDoA) per infraction is $10,000.

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