Animal rights group files federal complaint about UH

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Please contact and demand that he take immediate action against the University of Houston for the death of a rabbit and for withholding information from the USDA regarding depriving primates of water.

Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Western Region
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Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117
(970) 494-7478
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Animal rights group files federal complaint about UH

By Carol Christian, Houston Chronicle, Friday, December 13, 2013

An animal rights group has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture against the University of Houston over a rabbit death and deprivation of water to monkeys.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, a research watchdog group, filed the complaint Friday.

In a news release Friday, the group referred to a USDA inspection last month that documented citations against the university over the two issues.

The Ohio-based watchdog group called for a third citation for inadequate veterinary care and the maximum federal fine of $10,000 per infraction, for a possible total fine of $30,000.

"We believe that staff of the University of Houston is clearly incompetent and has caused an unnecessary animal death and is deserving of a severe penalty," Michael A. Budkie, the group's executive director said in the release.

According to a copy of the Nov. 18 inspection report provided by the watchdog group, a rabbit used in a research protocol died while under anesthesia due to inadequate monitoring.

The person performing the procedure, who was responsible for monitoring the anesthesia, failed to notice the animal's respiratory or cardiac distress in a timely manner, the inspection report stated.

According to the research protocol, the supervision was inadequate, and the person conducting the procedure lacked the qualifications and experience to act without supervision, the inspection report stated.

The other citation noted in the inspection report concerned withholding information from the USDA about experiments that deprive non-human primates of the required twice-daily offering of water.

Although the experiment protocol included the required explanation about the change in water frequency, it was not part of the lab's annual reports for 2012 and 2013, according to the inspection report.

Budkie, one of the group's cofounders, said its sole focus since its incorporation in 1996 has been the use of animals in research labs.

In the past three weeks, it has handled cases in five states dealing with either fines or citations against laboratories, he said.

The university did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment. 

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