Federal complaint filed against ODU after 'botched experiment' results in rabbit deaths
Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now



Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Animal Welfare Operations, USDA-APHIS
[email protected] 
[email protected] 

Please levy the MAXIMUM FINE against Old Dominion University for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act which killed multiple rabbits. Their behavior should NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.


Federal complaint filed against ODU after 'botched experiment' results in rabbit deaths

From Julia Marshall, 13News.com, June 2, 2021

The animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! said Old Dominion University conducted an experiment that resulted in the deaths of four rabbits.

NORFOLK, Va. — A national watchdog group that monitors research facilities for illegal activity and animal abuse, filed a federal complaint against Old Dominion University.

The group Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN) said ODU admitted to negligent deaths of multiple rabbits in a botched experiment and that, during the experiment, ODU sprayed hydrochloric acid into the lungs of the rabbits.

As a result, three rabbits died from lung injuries, and one died from a broken leg that severed major blood vessels.

According to SAEN, the Old Dominion Researcher Administration stopped the project following the fourth rabbit's death.

In addition to the animal abuse, SAEN said ODU violated the following federal regulations: "animal handling, feeding, personnel qualifications, and research supervision by the ODU Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee (IACUC)."

In regard to feeding, ODU acknowledged forgetting some feedings due to miscommunication and misunderstandings on the part of research staff.

In a letter to the National Institute of Health, ODU said following the miscommunication, the lab group and others involved in the experiment met up to discuss who was in charge of feedings.

During that meeting, staff discovered the rabbits were not fed on at least one day since the start of the experiment, but it's possible they weren't fed on three separate occasions.

ODU also stated that their post-doctoral fellow was eventually removed from the project because he was from Russia and did not speak fluid-English.

Following an intervention, and some additional training, the fellow was reinstated.

The subcomittee that was investigating the project decided ODU could continue with the project under a list of conditions regarding feeding and weighing of the rabbits. There also must be more monitoring of the post-doctoral fellow.

SAEN's federal complaint calls for a full U.S. Department of Agriculture Investigation into the experiment and rabbit deaths.

“The USDA should throw the book at Old Dominion University for these negligent and utterly unnecessary animal deaths and injuries," said Michael A. Budkie, SAEN co-founder, in a news release.

“Not only did the laboratory fail to use viable alternative technology, but once the rabbit project started it was hopelessly botched," said Budkie. "The staff can’t handle rabbits without killing them, and can’t even remember to feed the animals. Why should we believe that they can do science?”

SAEN said it got its information from an unpublished report that was obtained using the Freedom of Information Act.

13News Now contacted ODU and sent the information the group released. A spokesman for the university said he was checking on it and would get back to us with a comment.

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