Research animal deaths sparks complaint from watchdog group

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Please contact the USDA to insist that Purdue University receive the largest fine allowable under the Animal Welfare Act for the negligence which caused the deaths of two calves and eight chinchillas.

Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer, Director, USDA, Eastern Region
920 Main Campus Drive, Suite 2000
Raleigh, NC 27606 
[email protected] 
[email protected]

Research animal deaths sparks complaint from watchdog group

By Holly Campbell,, Friday, March 20, 2015 

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – After 10 research animals at Purdue University die, a research watchdog group claims the university broke federal law.

In late 2013, eight chinchillas used for Auditory Brainstem Response research died from a bacterial infection. In January of 2014, two calves died when they were attacked by stray dogs. Those incidents sparked the group Stop Animal Exploitation Now to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Both of these things clearly could have been prevented by the staff at Purdue, and that’s why we feel this is such an egregious situation and that the university deserves the largest penalty allowable under the Animal Welfare Act,” said the group’s executive director Michael Budkie.

Budkie is urging the USDA to fine the university $10,000 for each incident, equaling $100,000.

“Since this is our tax dollars paying for potentially abusive and negligent situations, we believe the people have a right to know what they’re paying for,” Budkie said.

Purdue Associate Vice President of Research Compliance Howard Zelaznik said a thorough investigation was launched following the death of the animals.

“We discovered what we thought was the problem, changed the procedures and then the chinchillas have been doing fine since that time,” Zelaznik said.

Zelaznik said a committee regularly visits research labs and monitors the health and well-being of all 18,000 research animals. They also notify the federal government of any deaths. In the case of the chinchillas, Zelaznik said they got the green light to continue their research.

“They were satisfied with our report and with our procedures that we implemented to mitigate the possibility of future death to the chinchillas,” Zelaznik said.

The university has also made improvements at the farm where the calves were attacked.

“They suggested that we improve perimeter security so that animals could no longer get in underneath the fence, and we took that suggestion to heart and improved the perimeter security,” Zelaznik said.

Despite the approval from the federal agencies, Budkie said he will continue to urge the USDA to investigate the university.

“And decide if this is something if they are going to issue, for example, an official warning which is essentially kind of a paper slap on the wrist or if they were going to go through the longer and somewhat more involved process of levying a fine,” Budkie said.

Budkie said the investigation could take several months to complete.

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