National animal rights group alleges animal abuse at South Dakota State University
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now


Contact Dr. Robert Gibbens Director
Western Region, USDA
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Please levy a maximum fine against South Dakota State University for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) when their negligence denied euthanasia to a bighorn sheep and damaged a pig's birth canal. 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!


National animal rights group alleges animal abuse at South Dakota State University

From Morgan Matzen,, March 18, 2021

A national watchdog animal rights group, Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (SAEN), has filed a federal complaint with the USDA against South Dakota State University after the group said it obtained internal documents from SDSU that reveal a whistleblower complaint alleging animal abuse.

The federal complaint filed by SAEN on Tuesday contains an SDSU email report of a whistleblower complaint and a USDA inspection report.

The email includes allegations from a Title IX coordinator at the university about the overuse of a shock prod, injury to a pig and other improper procedures.

Three undergraduate students had alleged to the Title IX coordinator that the manager of the swine unit was “too liberal with the shock prod, over treats animals with antibiotics and improperly sleeves gilts.”

A postmortem inspection on one sow also revealed damage to the birth canal, the whistleblower said in the email.

A 2020 USDA inspection attached to the complaint cites SDSU for denying a Bighorn ewe named Dolly the benefit of euthanasia while dying.
“She was left to die a slow and painful death from disease," said Michael A. Budkie, SAEN executive director and co-founder.

Observation records and necropsy submission information show the ewe was observed by research personnel on Sept. 25, 2019 to be “less active than normal.”

By Sept. 28, 2019 the ewe was “recumbent” and not displaying normal avoidance behavior when personnel entered the pen. By Sept. 29, 2019, the ewe was found dead in her pen.

Dolly suffered from pulmonary edema, mycoplasma infection, copper deficiency, aspiration pneumonia and mild suppurative hepatitis, according to a federal report obtained by SAEN.

"The fact that South Dakota State University allowed an ewe to suffer by denying euthanasia as well as overusing electric shock with pigs demonstrates a callous disregard for animals," Budkie said.

The SDSU Division of Research and Economic Development is aware of the complaint, Matt Schmidt, senior news editor and media relations at SDSU, said Wednesday.

And the university’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee deployed its rapid response team to investigate the complaint and the animal treatment conditions associated with the complaint, he stated.

The investigation included interviews of those involved, the complainants and the supervisors of those involved, Schmidt said.

“Animal welfare is part of our core values of integrity and excellence in fulfilling our responsibilities as a university,” Schmidt said.

“We have taken corrective actions to bolster ongoing and sustained best practices for animal care principles and teaching those principles to all incoming employees and students,” Schmidt said. “The plan includes follow-up monitoring.”

The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW) was notified of the whistleblower complaint in early December and a final report was submitted in February, Schmidt said.

The NIH OLAW responded Feb. 8 confirming appropriate actions were taken to correct the issues identified and ensure animal welfare conditions continue to be met in all SDSU facilities involving animals, Schmidt said.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (SAEN) said it obtained the whistleblower document via a federal open records request filed with the National Institutes of Health's Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.

SAEN has made multiple complaints against universities or other groups for violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including most recently against the University of Missouri.

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