Watchdog group calls for additional investigation, fines following deaths of 15 animals at Oklahoma State University

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Watchdog group calls for additional investigation, fines following deaths of 15 animals at Oklahoma State University

From Stillwater News Press, Monday, November 18, 2013

A national animal research watchdog group is calling for a federal investigation and fines following the dehydration deaths of 15 animals at Oklahoma State University.

On Sept. 13 and Sept. 19, the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Inspection Service cited OSU mulitple times for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

The violations included:

• having out of date medications in the Equine Research Center.

• a fawn in the deer herd with untreated hair loss around its eyes and face.

• Inadequate enclosures for cats.

• the dehydration deaths of 12 voles. (Three were later euthanized). The voles watering bottles were empty. A vole is a small rodent. It resembles a mouse, but has a stouter body with a shorter, hairier tail.

Veterinarian Michael Tygart conducted the inspections for the federal agency.

The mid-July deaths of the voles was reported to Oklahoma State University's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which determined corrective measures. The incident was then reported to the Department of Agriculture.

In his report, Tygart said an inspection and exit interviews with facility representatives were conducted.

Sunday, a national watchdog organization sent a letter to USDA Western Region Director Dr. Robert Gibbens asking his office to conduct an additional investigation into the incidents at the university.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now Executive Director Michael Budkie said, "Negligence at Oklahoma State University caused 15 animals to die of thirst. Serious animal abuse like this must be severly punished."

The public should be upset by the neglect and animal deaths, he said.

"If the staff at Oklahoma State University can't even hang a water bottle on a cage, then why should anyone believe they are capable of doing scientific research," he said.

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