OHSU fires caretaker for striking pig in 2012

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OHSU fires caretaker for striking pig in 2012

By KOIN 6 News Staff, KOIN.com, Monday, October 6, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — An animal caretaker was fired by Oregon Health & Science University more than a year and a half after being seen striking a pig that was later used for testing.

The incident, which happened in April 2012, was not reported by the hospital until 22 months later, in February 2014. As a result, staff in the Department of Comparative Medicine (DCM) are being retrained, and policies are under review.

The official complaint, filed October 1 by animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now Executive Director Michael Budkie, calls for a $10,000 fine.

“We find it very disturbing that OHSU staff apparently withheld this information for approximately 1 years before reporting it,” the complaint reads.

“We believe that this must indicate that either OHSU staff are afraid to report animal welfare concerns or this incident was deliberately hidden.”

Timeline of reports

A February 26, 2014 report of noncompliance from OHSU Senior Vice President for Research Daniel Dorsa to the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, the federal department that oversees animal testing, was included in the complaint filed by SAEN.

The letter reports “mishandling of a swine and incomplete follow-up to the incident.” The report states the item was received by OHSU’s Research Integrity Office via an anonymous note on December 26, 2013, more than a year and a half after the incident.

The report states the anonymous note said the animal care worker, who worked in OHSU’s DCM, was seen striking the pig April 13, 2012, and blood was later seen in its cage.

The caretaker’s actions and the observation of blood were reported to supervisors the day of the incident, but a veterinary check was not submitted for the pig, the report states.

Daily health check records indicated the pig was “bright, alert and responsive,” according to the report.

New protocol

“DCM conducted a prompt internal investigation, and the animal caretaker was suspended and then terminated from OHSU,” the letter states.

However, it remains unclear exactly when the staffer was fired. The IUAC was made aware of the incident at a scheduled meeting January 15, 2014.

Following the meeting, the committee identified three corrective actions.

  • Develop a system to promptly notify IACUC of “all DCM issues that may significantly impact animal welfare”
  • Review all DCM procedures relevant to the incident
  • Retrain staff on their responsibilities related to veterinary checks and animal welfare concerns.

In response to a request for comment, OHSU said they are aware of the incident and are looking into it. 

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