Animal welfare group raises concerns about mice deaths
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now



Dr. Alexander N. Cartwright, Chancellor
University of Missouri, Columbia
[email protected]

Chancellor Cartwright,

Over two dozen animals died of either suffocation or dehydration at the University of Missouri, Columbia, due to negligence. Other animals were denied post-operative care, and multiple animals were victimized in failed attempts at euthanasia. You must launch an independent investigation to make certain that these incidents will never happen again.


Animal welfare group raises concerns about mice deaths
By Rudi Keller,, May 1, 2018

An animal welfare group that pushed for heavy fines after a dachshund puppy and two swine died in University of Missouri laboratory accidents raised new concerns about animal safety Tuesday when it released documents showing 26 mice died of suffocation or other causes unrelated to their experimental purpose.

Using documents MU filed with the National Institute of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, the group Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! is calling for the university to form an independent investigating panel and fire those responsible for the deaths. A failure to do so would show the university is more interested in maintaining its $25 million in annual grant funding from the NIH than in animal welfare, wrote Michael Budkie, executive director.

“These incidents, taken collectively with the incidents already adjudicated by the USDA, effectively demonstrate a multi-year pattern of fatal negligence at the University of Missouri, Columbia, caused by lab staff,” Budkie wrote. “This negligence must NOT be allowed to continue.”

In an interview, MU spokesman Christian Basi defended the university’s record on animal research.

“Mizzou takes its animal research operation so seriously that anytime we have a concern we self-report it to the federal government,” he said. “In this case they are talking about incidents that occurred nearly and more than two years ago that we self-reported to the National Institutes of Health. In each and every case we identified the issue, determined how the mistake was made and took immediate action to correct it.”

The demands are the latest effort by animal welfare groups to disrupt MU’s use of animals in research. The university is being sued in Boone County Circuit Court over its demand that a group known as Animal Rescue Media Education pay more than $80,000 to obtain records relating to the research and care of 179 dogs and cats. Physicians for Responsible Medicine staged a protest in November outside University Hospital in an attempt to end the use of pigs in university research.

Budkie’s organization in 2016 called for the university to be fined $10,000 for the incidents involving the puppy and the two boars. The puppy was killed by an adult dog that came into its pen through an unsecured transfer door. One boar died of cardiac arrest when an aggressive boar broke through a pen wall. The aggressive boar was killed by researchers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a warning about the incidents.

The organization released six letters dated from February 2016 to December where the university reported the incidents. The incidents included the April 2016 death of 17 mice from suffocation when cages were stacked in a way that blocked their air supply and the death of five mice euthanized after they had become dehydrated when their water bottle was not placed properly.

Budkie’s group did not include the responses from Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, which in each case stated it was pleased that the university had reported the deaths and taken action to prevent a recurrence. MU released the responses Tuesday afternoon.

The regulations that apply to larger animals such as hogs and dogs do not apply to mice, rats, birds or cold-blooded animals or his group would be seeking fines for the mice, Budkie said. The only recourse is to appeal to the university to take action, he said.

“It kind of sounds like someone in the laboratory at the University of Missouri is asleep at the wheel,” he said. “A private individual documented to have killed animals by failing to provide food or water or to have suffocated an animal would be charged with animal cruelty regardless of the species.”

Notifying the federal agency that provides MU grant funding shows that the university is serious about animal welfare, Basi said.

“We have been very, very transparent,” he said. “Our researchers and the individuals tasked with overseeing the animals involved in research on this campus act immediately when they see or are aware of issues related to animal care.” 

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