Feds asked to closely examine OSU animal labs

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Please contact the Director of the USDA’s Eastern Regional Office to insist that they take immediate action against Ohio State University for ten violations of the Animal Welfare Act including: use of improper euthanasia agents, inadequate veterinary care, failure to disclose animals used in experimentation, failure to seek alternatives for painful procedures, failure to provide environmental enhancement for primates, improper enclosures, etc.

Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer 
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Feds asked to closely examine OSU animal labs

By Encarnaction Pyle, The Columbus Dispatch, Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A watchdog group wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture to further investigate repeat violations of the federal animal-welfare to ensure that lab animals at Ohio State University are not in danger.

“Ohio State University has made it to the top as having one of the worst single inspection reports in the entire nation. And they should pay the price,” said Michael A. Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now.

Budkie filed a complaint with the USDA yesterday after discovering that the agency’s inspectors had cited Ohio State for 10 violations they found during an unannounced visit in July.

Two months earlier, OSU had accumulated six other USDA citations.

The nonprofit group monitors USDA inspection records of about 1,000 public and private research labs nationwide, including about 80 in Ohio.

Ohio State officials said they have addressed the citations and none involved a direct threat to the safety or welfare of any of the animals at the university.

“We take seriously our obligation to meet and exceed all federal regulations involving the use of laboratory animals,” spokesman Jeff Grabmeier said. “And we remain committed to continually looking for ways to improve the care of the animals housed at the university.”

He said a university committee reviews all research protocols to make sure researchers are using the “best, most humane methods in their work.”

Most of the problems identified by inspectors in July have already been corrected, Grabmeier said. And the remaining two issues will be fixed by the dates requested by the USDA.

He added that inspectors found no areas of non-compliance during a more-recent visit in November.

Ohio State has about 130,000 animals under its care at locations throughout the state that are involved in more than 800 research projects.

A USDA spokesman would confirm only that the agency had received the complaint and would look into the allegations.

During the federal inspectors’ July 30 visit, Ohio State was cited for using improper euthanasia agents on rabbits and providing inadequate veterinary care to a group of grass rats, half of which had suffered significant hair loss.

The school was also faulted for failing to provide alternatives to potentially painful or stressful procedures for a group of hamsters and for keeping others in enclosures at 46.5 degrees Fahrenheit, almost 15 degrees lower than the minimum requirement.

OSU was additionally cited for using chair restraints on some primates and keeping 12 macaque monkeys, who live in social groups in the wild, in individual cages instead of group housing.

The May 30 violations mostly involved housekeeping and sanitation, including several soiled animal enclosures.

Budkie said Ohio State stands out because of the number and severity of the violations, which could hint at larger problems.

He said he is especially concerned by the violations involving the primates and plans to conduct his own investigation because it’s not uncommon for monkeys to engage in self-destructive behavior such as biting off their fingers, toes or tails when they’re not psychologically stimulated. He is not aware of that happening at Ohio State, but he wants to be sure.

Budkie has asked the USDA to perform another investigation, as required by the Animal Welfare Act, and to fine Ohio State the maximum allowed under law: $10,000 per violation.

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