USDA report unveils animal welfare violations

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USDA report unveils animal welfare violations

By Murphy Mitchell,, Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Oklahoma State University is under heavy fire for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act from Stop Animal Exploitation Now, a national non-profit research watchdog group.

On Sept. 19, the United States Department of Agriculture filed a routine inspection report finding the OSU Animal Resources Unit in violation of three compliance conditions.

The violations included the death of 15 voles — 12 presumably died of thirst and three more were euthanized due to a violation of watering requirements.

The report also found numerous expired medications and medical supplies in the Equine Research park and lack of elevated resting services or cats.

On Nov. 11, SAEN contacted USDA in regard to the Sept. 19 inspection report.
In the correspondence, Michael Budkie — executive director of SAEN — called for the issuance of the maximum penalty allowable under the Anima Welfare Act of $10,000 per citation.

“The most disturbing violation of all was the citation for insufficient provision of water to animals, “ Budkie said. “This is basic animal husbandry, and they obviously can’t even make sure these animals are getting water.”

A response from the USDA to SAEN'S request says the matter will be looked into within 30 to 60 days.

Budkie said while he isn’t sure if the full penalty of $10,000 per citation will be issued in this instance, common-sense care-taking measures can prevent animal deaths.

“We would like to see the university fined because any time animal deaths are involved, we believe the violations are extremely serious,” he said. “Anyone who has a companion animal at home knows that you have to fill the water bowl.”

The university responded Monday by saying the advances in prevention and treatment of animal and human diseases “are the direct result of animal research.”

“Oklahoma State University has responded to the USDA and taken corrective action regarding the four issues raised in the USDA’s annual inspection,” the response reads. “The corrective action included changes in protocol, increased inspections and counseling.”

As for future practices of the OSU Animal Resources Unit, Budkie said he hopes the actions taken by SAEN will send a message to the university.

“If we’re talking about a facility that is not ever capable of making sure the animals are getting water, why should we believe they’re capable of doing anything that’s even roughly reminiscent of science?” 

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