Group alleges improper care of Phoenix hospital research animals

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Group alleges improper care of Phoenix hospital research animals

By Daniel Gonzalez,, Wednesday, September 4, 2013

An animal rights group has filed a complaint with the United States Department of Agriculture, asking that St. Joseph’s Hospital Medical Center/Barrow Neurological Research Institute be fined for not adequately following veterinary protocols on research animals.

Hospital officials said they have already resolved violations pointed out by the USDA in two inspections over the past year.

An inspection report last month by the USDA found that researchers at the center violated veterinary protocols by allowing the weight of a cat being used in research to drop nearly 20 percent, potentially endangering the cat’s health.

An August 2012 inspection report by the USDA found that researchers also were not weighing cats in accordance with veterinary protocols, and as a result one cat lost more than the allowed 10 percent in weight.

The August 2012 report also found that several other veterinary protocols were not being adequately followed, including properly cleaning and sanitizing food receptacles and administering medication to some animals as prescribed.

“If the research staff at the Barrow neurological Institute are incapable of even making sure that cats are adequately fed, and this situation continued from 2012 to 2013, then they are clearly unqualified and they deserve a federal fine,” said Michael A. Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now,” an animal rights group based in Ohio that opposes animal experimentation.

In a written statement, hospital officials said all of the problems identified by USDA inspectors have been corrected, pointing out that the “issues involved minor documentation and protocol errors.”

“St. Joseph’s and Barrow treat research animals with compassion and respect,” the statement said. “At no time were any of the animals at risk or in danger. In fact, they were in good health as determined by the veterinary staff.” 

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