University of Florida animal research program under scrutiny for alleged mistreatment of cats, lab rats
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Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Western Region, USDA
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Please levy the MAXIMUM FINE against University of Florida for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act when their negligence killed four cats. Their behavior should NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.


University of Florida animal research program under scrutiny for alleged mistreatment of cats, lab rats

From Chris Perkins,, March 11, 2021

The University of Florida’s animal testing program is under scrutiny by an animal rights group and the U.S. Department of Agriculture after being issued a number of citations, including one regarded as critical that said the university subjected cats to unnecessary pain and suffering.

The government’s critical citation was issued on July 28, 2020, after determining that four cats who were undergoing bone marrow surgery didn’t receive the proper anesthetic and had to be euthanized.

Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! also accused the UF program of twice accidentally setting rats on fire during surgery, subjecting a rat to increased pain and distress while undergoing traumatic brain injury research, and accidentally boiling two live rats that were still inside a cage while it was being sterilized.

Because mice and rats aren’t protected under the Animal Welfare Act, the agriculture department did not investigate those deaths.

The university was also cited by the Agriculture Department on July 28 for not reporting it suspended two experiments on sheep over a failure to adhere to approved surgical technique and pain-reduction procedures as well as proper sanitation. Those were corrected soon afterward.

Michael Budkie, director of Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, said critical noncompliances are only issued in about 2% of research facilities inspected by the government, something he said puts the University of Florida in “bad company.”

Budkie said his group collects information on about 1,000 labs per year and there are only 35 to 40 protocol suspensions annually.

He said UF’s issues are egregious.

“We certainly don’t see many laboratories where animals are accidentally set on fire and/or run through cage washers,” Budkie said. “That is something that is extremely unusual. And then also suspending protocols is something that is very unusual as well.”

The University of Florida declined to comment but issued a statement:

“The University of Florida is committed to the ethical use of animals in its pursuit of medical advances that benefit both humans and animals. Almost every drug, treatment, medical device, diagnostic tool or cure we have today was developed with the help of lab animals. Animal research at UF is governed by a federally mandated Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee that reviews all requests for approval to use vertebrate animals and inspects all areas where animals are housed and used.

“UF’s animal care and use program has been accredited for many years by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, a distinction that reflects the university’s commitment to the responsible use of animals in research. UF Animal Care Services is staffed by veterinary professionals who are committed to providing humane, high-quality animal care.”

The Agriculture Department also issued a statement.

“Critical noncompliances are considered to be serious. The definition of “critical noncompliance” can be found in Animal Care’s Inspection Guide which is posted online,” the statement said.

According to the guide, such citations are for incidents that “had a serious or severe adverse effect on the health and well-being of the animal” and includes several examples that lead to pain or death.

“With regard to protocol suspensions, the inspection report documents what took place,” the government’s statement continued. “The University of Florida has a current and active registration and can therefore conduct research activities as regulated under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Please note that laboratory rats and mice are not regulated under the AWA.”

Budkie wants action taken against the university.

“In the correspondence we have posted we have called on the University of Florida to close down the projects connected to all these specific incidents because we believe that if research staff violates federal laws consistently then they shouldn’t be allowed to use animals in experimentation,” he said.

“It’s just like if a private individual is, say, arrested for DUI they lose their driver’s license. Same thing. shouldn’t be any different.”

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