WSU warned by USDA for animal care violations
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WSU warned by USDA for animal care violations
By Moscow-Pullman Daily News, July 31, 2018

Washington State University has received an official warning from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for allegedly violating the Animal Welfare Act.

The violation stems from the death of a dog that was left in a kennel overnight and died at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in 2016. According to a release from the university, WSU has put policies in place to avoid related deaths or incidents in the future.

According to documents from WSU's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, provided by the animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now, the dog was given required tests by students in the junior surgery class and left in the kennel. The documents stated the animal's condition deteriorated and it developed a cough as the day progressed.

"Evening check noted that there was lot of blood in the cage. The technician left a text message to the vets and went home when nobody responded or turned up. However, the next morning the animal was highly moribund. When the technician went to the VTH to get a doctor, nobody could be located. The animal passed away," as cited in the May 4, 2016, IACUC meeting minutes.

It was later found the dog died from Parvovirus, a disease that attacks white blood cells in dogs and can damage heart muscles.

"It was shocking to us, it really was," SAEN co-founder Michael Budkie said. "Only an official warning was a major disappointment."

More than two years ago, SAEN requested the USDA fine WSU $10,000 for every animal subject to a violation, which Budkie told the Daily News in June 2016 was expected to be worth six figures.

Under the USDA official warning, WSU is not required to pay anything to the USDA.

Charlie Powell, public information officer for WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine, said the university has "never paid a fine to the USDA."

In a statement from the university written by Powell, he wrote the incident was "the result of a disease that can kill very quickly." He wrote "The dog was not 'undiagnosed' as alleged," but had undergone Parvovirus testing, which showed it to be negative.

"The test is not 100 percent accurate for this disease," Powell wrote, noting WSU deals with many animals susceptible to fatal diseases, like Parvovirus.

"This (incident of the dog in question) was corrected prior to inspection by development of a contact list and contact procedures with several layers of backup," Powell wrote.

SAEN has submitted four total animal care violations by WSU to the USDA.

The other complaints dealt with improper care of grizzly bears at the WSU Bear Research, Education and Conservation Center and the deaths of six bighorn sheep.

"WSU negligence killed multiple animals, and they can't be brought back to life. This 'penalty' is not sufficient to compel WSU to change. More animals are likely to die," Budkie wrote in a news release.

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