Animal rights group files Animal Welfare Act violation complaint against Oklahoma State University

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Animal rights group files Animal Welfare Act violation complaint against Oklahoma State University

By Chris Day,, Saturday,  January 10, 2015

The Department of Agriculture is looking into the use of a .22-caliber rifle to euthanize a sick rabbit at Oklahoma State University, and the death of a dog that was run over during a military training exercise out of state.

An animal-rights group filed an Animal Welfare Act violation complaint in December. U.S. Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa confirmed Friday the agency was determining if an investigation would be warranted.

The agency’s first step, she said, will be to determine what actions, if any, are required. If an investigation is launched and action is needed, OSU could receive anything from a warning letter and increased inspections to fines, she said.

Ohio-based Stop Animal Exploitation Now Executive Director Michael A. Budkie said the organization filed its complaint against OSU after it learned of the dog and rabbit deaths.

"Negligence at Oklahoma State University has allowed animals to suffer and die horribly," Budkie said. "Evidence now clearly demonstrates a long-term pattern of serious Animal Welfare Act violations. This lab deserves the maximum penalty from the USDA."

The rabbit incident

Oklahoma State University had taken two ill rabbits from a breeder in early August to determine the type of illness and a recovery plan. OSU veterinarians determined the animals had coccidiosis, a highly contagious infection caused by one-cell organisms and provided a treatment plan.

One of the rabbits was found unresponsive and barely breathing about a week later. An OSU employee didn’t inform the attending veterinarian or any licensed veterinarian the animal was in distress, and used a .22-caliber rifle to kill it.

Oklahoma State reported the incident to the USDA and its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. On Nov. 19, an inspection report revealed additional problems. It noted using a .22-caliber rifle for euthanasia is not approved in the American Veterinary Medicine Association guidelines.

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