Animal rights organization files suit against Santa Cruz Biotech

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Animal rights organization files suit against Santa Cruz Biotech

By Jessica M. Pasko, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Thursday, January 17, 2013

SANTA CRUZ -- An animal rights group is suing Santa Cruz Biotechnology over alleged violations of animal welfare laws occurring throughout the past several years.

The suit was filed in Santa Cruz County Court on Thursday by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, on behalf of Ohio-based Stop Animal Exploitation Now. It seeks a permanent injunction to prevent Santa Cruz Biotech, an antibody production facility, from continuing to violate animal welfare regulations.

The nonprofit organization and its executive director, Michael Budkie, allege that Santa Cruz Biotech has provided inadequate and improper medical care to unhealthy animals, primarily goats.

"SC Biotech's animal cruelty has caused financial injury to Stop Animal Exploitation Now," according to the suit. "SAEN's mission compels it to respond to the abuse at SC Biotech."

The organization says its suffered financial injury because financial resources have had to be diverted toward fighting the ongoing animal welfare violations at Santa Cruz Biotech.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now also alleges that by violating federal animal welfare regulations, Santa Cruz Biotech is undermining competition and engaging in unfair business practices.

Representatives from Santa Cruz Biotech have not return repeated calls from the Sentinel.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also has a pending complaint against Santa Cruz Biotech, filed in September. That complaint chastises the companyfor ongoing, repeated noncompliance with the animal welfare act as discovered in numerous federal inspections. The agency's inspection records show the company has continued to rack up violations during inspections conducted subsequent to the complaint's filing.

Earlier this week it was revealed that during an October 2012 inspection, federal inspectors discovered there were an additional 841 goats being kept in a barn, about nine miles from the main animal facility. The USDA requires companies to tell them of all animals they have, and they allege that not only did staff fail to notify the agency of the goats' existence, they also repeatedly lied.

Further investigation determined the barn had been in use for at least two and a half years.

David Sacks, spokesman for the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said he didn't know exactly where at Santa Cruz Biotech those goats were located, just that they were about nine miles from where the rest of the goats were.

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