USDA looks into animal injuries, deaths at UCD
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now


Contact the USDA to Demand MAX FINES against UC DAVIS:

Dr. Robert Gibbens Director, Western Region, USDA
(970) 494-7478
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SAMPLE MESSAGE: Please LEVY a MAXIMUM FINE against University of California, Davis, for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) when they allowed a monkey to escape who broke both legs, ignored a monkey who was taped down to a restraint board for 4 hours. The frightened monkey broke a limb while struggling to free himself. There were also negligent deaths of a dog and a rabbit. Their behavior must NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.


USDA looks into animal injuries, deaths at UCD
By Tanya Perez,, June 26, 2016

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed there is an “open investigation” into UC Davis regarding research animals.

Tanya Espinosa of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service responded to a query by animal protection group Stop Animal Exploitation Now by saying, “We do have an open investigation into the University of California, Davis.”

When asked by The Enterprise for more information, Espinosa responded, “Because it’s an open investigation, I can’t go into detail. However, I encourage you to look at the inspection reports.”

Michael Budkie, the executive director for Stop Animal Exploitation Now, wants stronger restrictions and harsher penalties for UCD.

“I have never seen (an open investigation) not result in some kind of an enforcement action,” Budkie said.

The details

Looking at all of the reports between May 24 and April 15, 2015, a couple of incidents were either discovered or self-reported by UCD.

Among them, on March 19, a “non-human primate was injured after staff failed to secure an enclosure door,” the May 24 inspection report said. “A 4-year-old macaque escaped from the enclosure through the unsecured door,” and upon returning “of its own volition” it was discovered that the primate had fractures in both legs.

The report explained that a veterinarian treated the animal — which UCD spokesman Andy Fell said made a full recovery — and that staff was retrained and additional locking practices for the macaque enclosures were put in place.

An April 15, 2015 inspection report revealed that in August 2014, a 6-year-old macaque “was left on a restraining board in a treatment room during intravenous fluid administration. At some point during treatment, the animal chewed through tape restraining his upper body to the board, leaving his legs taped to the board.”

Fell explained the incident as follows: “In 2014, a rhesus monkey being treated for diarrhea with intravenous fluids partially freed itself from restraints, sustaining a leg fracture in the process. (Restraints are required to prevent the animal from removing the intravenous line.)”

Following this incident, Fell said, the USDA-APHIS issued a citation and research facility staff underwent refresher training. Fell also said, “The animal was treated and made a full recovery.”

Another report was filed in May of 2015 with the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. UCD’s then-vice chancellor of finance, operations and administration Dave Lawlor explained to the NIH that a rabbit who was under anesthesia died when “the veterinary technician responsible for the anesthesia inadvertently left the pop-off valve in the closed position.”

Fell said that the technician received further training, “and the anesthesia equipment was retrofitted to prevent a recurrence.”

And also potentially adding to the investigation by the USDA-APHIS is the death of a “colony dog” at UCD. The School of Veterinary Medicine keeps a number of dogs to teach non-invasive procedures — things such as ultrasounds — for a few months at a time, before the dogs are adopted as pets.

A dog named Billie died in Oct. 2014, likely from “strangulation via her collar in the play yard,” a report said. “There were not any witnesses, but it was suspected that this occurred during normal play time between two dogs. Billie’s collar was twisted,” which suggested a playmate’s teeth were caught in the collar.

Fell said that USDA-APHIS did not find any non-compliance related to this death.

Hoping for action

Budkie is optimistic the USDA will act, pointing out that UCD “already recently received an official warning.”

A copy of the official warning from USDA-APHIS said that UCD violated the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 9, on or about May 27, 2014, by “failure to handle as expeditiously and carefully as possible in a manner that does not cause trauma, overheating, excessive cooling, behavioral stress, physical harm or unnecessary discomfort.”

On May 27, 2014, the USDA-APHIS issued a report that UCD did not give a complete description of a procedure used on primates that were having a subcutaneous mini-pump implanted.

After the protocol was changed — the pumps were removed and substituted for subcutaneous injections — the inspectors said in their report that UCD failed to adequately describe the procedure or parameters, making it impossible for the inspectors to “adequately assess the activity.”

Meanwhile, Budkie said that he believes the “USDA may be moving into a new direction of stricter enforcement,” and pointed to a new deputy administrator for the Animal Care Program, Bernadette Juarez.

“The significant thing about this,” Budkie said, “is that this new administrator is not a veterinarian, she is a lawyer who comes from the USDA’s Investigation & Enforcement Services division. That signals a change to me.”

Budkie also pointed to the resolution of a case that SAEN had against Santa Cruz Biotechnology.

“USDA had filed three separate complaints against SCBT in just a few years,” Budkie said. “These cases were recently resolved, with the most severe penalty ever issued against a lab — a $3.5 million fine, termination of their animal dealer license, and they were also forced to surrender their registration as an animal lab.”

SAEN has filed an official complaint with the USDA related to the animal deaths and injuries at UCD. The complaint calls for the maximum penalty of $10,000 per infraction/per animal.

“With these things combined,” Budkie said, “we are very hopeful that the USDA is moving into a new era of much stricter enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act with much more severe penalties.”

‘Learn from our mistakes’

UCD’s Fell said that UCD follows all applicable laws, regulations and guidelines from the USDA, which conducts both scheduled and unannounced inspections. The NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare also conducts inspections, and the university animal care program is accredited by an independent group, the International Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care.

He also said that incidents involving animal care at the university are rare, but when they occur, they are appropriately reported and “We learn from our mistakes to improve care for all animals.”

Fell continued, “Care of animals is a responsibility that UC Davis takes extremely seriously. All animal research at UC Davis is conducted humanely, and UC Davis employees strive to provide the best possible care to animals in our charge.”

The USDA-APHIS shows for 2015 that the total number of research animals at UCD is:
* 2,719 non-human primates
* 419 cats
* 315 rabbits
* 125 sheep
* 90 pigs
* 59 hamsters
* 30 dogs
* 6 guinea pigs

Rounding out the totals are 3,505 “other animals” and 457 “other farm animals.

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