Two piglets disappeared in a drain and five dogs died of heat stress at Mizzou lab, animal rights group says
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Contact Dr. Robert Gibbens Director
Western Region, USDA
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Please levy a maximum fine against the University of Missouri, Columbia, for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) when their negligence caused the deaths of five dogs and the disappearance of two piglets. This must NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law. The time is NOW to send a clear message with stiff penalties to these negligent facilities that these behaviors will NOT be tolerated!


Two piglets disappeared in a drain and five dogs died of heat stress at Mizzou lab, animal rights group says

From Roger McKinney, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 15

COLUMBIA, Mo. — An animal rights group in a federal complaint against MU is alleging five dogs in a lab died of apparent heat stress and two piglets in a lab disappeared into a drain trough.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now! filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, alleging violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The complaint refers to MU reports obtained by the group through the federal Freedom of Information Act.

MU has regularly had run-ins with animal rights groups, from protests by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to a public records lawsuit by the Beagle Freedom Project.

“We proactively reported both of these incidents to the USDA and the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare immediately,” said MU spokesman Christian Basi. USDA is the federal agriculture department. The Office of Animal Welfare is part of the National Institutes of Health.

“They’re both very unfortunate instances,” Basi said. The university worked quickly to correct the situations and hasn’t been contacted by the agencies about any further requirements.

The complaint cites MU correspondence from Jan. 8: “An animal caretaker entered the room in one of our facilities and found that it was very warm, humid and five of the 10 dogs deceased.”

The group’s complaint quotes further from the MU document.

“Necropsies were performed on the five deceased dogs and no cause of death was identified. Based on the warm and humid condition of the room, we presume that the five dogs succumbed to heat stress.”

The other five dogs were treated and are doing well, the report reads.

The report states that the alerting sensor for the zone containing the room the dogs were in was next door, so the elevated temperatures didn’t trigger an alert.

“We have since installed alerting sensors in all large animal holding rooms in this building,” the document reads. “We are assessing our other buildings that alert in other zones and installing room-level alerting sensors as needed.”

The complaint also cited a June 12, 2019, report of an incident on June 3 where two piglets disappeared into a drain trough that had been uncovered by a hole in the floor of a crate. A worker recovered one live piglet from the drain.

“Both the sow and the recovered piglet are doing well,” the MU report quoted by the group reads. “The other two piglets were not found.”

The report states that a plumber was called to determine if the piglets might be in the drain pipes, but they weren’t recovered after extensive searching.

“The plan to help prevent this from happening again is all floor pieces over the troughs will be checked visually, to assure they are seated correctly and have no visual flaws, and manually by walking and putting weight on them, prior to putting pregnant sows in the farrowing crates,” the MU report reads. “In addition, drain plugs will be kept in the trough drains when piglets are small.”

The complaint calls for a full USDA investigation. The animal rights group states the dog deaths and piglet disappearance resulted from negligence. It is seeking the maximum fine of $10,000 per infraction per animal.

MU is accredited by an outside organization that promotes the humane treatment of laboratory animals — the American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, Basi said

“Our campus has several policies and procedures in place that meet and exceed federal law,” Basi said.

Animal research is critical to finding therapies for cancer, heart disease and other ailments, Basi said.

“We’ve made a lot of progress on these diseases with this research,” he said.

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