USDA issues multiple violations of animal care, sanitation at Fort Valley State University
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Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Animal Welfare Operations, USDA-APHIS
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Please LEVY the MAXIMUM FINE against Fort Valley State University for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) when their negligence abused dogs, rabbits, and guinea pigs. Their behavior must NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.


USDA issues multiple violations of animal care, sanitation at Fort Valley State University

From Haley Garrett, WGXA.TV, January 6, 2022

FORT VALLEY, Ga. -- Fort Valley State University received an inspection by the United States Department of Agriculture that found several violations on the treatment of animals in the school's department of veterinarian science facility.

The USDA visited the university on July 27, 2021, as part of a routine inspection. A few months later the USDA sent an official warning letter to the university on the violations found.

They cited seven violations that included issues with animal care and sanitation in the animals' cages.

2.31(d)(1)(iii) Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

The first violation cited stated that none of the approved protocols provided assurance from the investigator that the activities do not unnecessarily duplicate previous experiments. This must assurance must be provided to the Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee for review and approval.

2.31(e) Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

The second violation stated that there were 6 teaching protocols missing required information.

These included:

None of the protocols had an explanation for the appropriateness of the species and number of animals used.
Four of the protocols (VETY3924, VETY2844, VETY3934, VETY2893) did not contain a complete description of the proposed use of the animals. Specifically, the skin scrape, spay/neuter, blood and urine collection procedures were not described.
All but one of the protocols did not describe the method of euthanasia to be used when necessary. Protocols describing the conduct of activity involving animals must contain all of the required information for proper IACUC review and approval.
The latter part of the inspection results focused on animal care.

Code Violation 2.33(b)(2)Attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care.

This violation cited rabbits and dogs that had overgrown nails. Three of the rabbits had nails extending 1 inch to 1.5 inches beyond the nail bed which caused them to curve sideways, outwards, and splayed apart from each other. One dog also had nails extending 1.5 to 2 inches beyond the nail bed. The USDA says that foot care is needed in order to prevent abnormal nail growth and additional diseases which can be painful to the animals.

Code Violation 2.33(b)(3) Attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care

A dog had hair on the top of its feet that was wet and brown and also had signs of inflammation on the webbing between the dog's toes. This same dog also had circular red hairless and raised lesion on the back right of its foot. Another dog had four feet that were covered in brown stains and were also inflamed between the toes. In addition, this dog also had a slightly raised lesion.

The USDA noted that Fort Valley has not identified the condition that affected the two dogs and had not contacted the veterinarian for guidance care.

"Failure to promptly identify injuries delays treatment and causes undue pain and distress in animals with such conditions. A more rigorous method of daily observation of all animals must be implemented in order to properly assess their health and well-being," stated the USDA.

Code Violation 3.6(c)(1) Primary enclosures

Two dogs were found being housed in a 6 square feet enclosure but for the animals' measurements, they should have been in 9 square feet enclosure. The other six dogs were of the same size or larger than the other two yet still housed in the same type of enclosure.

The USDA stated that for around five dogs there should also be 6 inches of room above the dogs' heads while standing in a normal position. However, their current enclosure did not provide the adequate space.

"Enclosures that are too small can have a negative impact on their health and well-being. Each dog housed in a primary enclosure must be provided a minimum amount of floor and head space as required by the Animal Welfare Act," stated the USDA.

Code Violation 3.31(a)(1) Sanitation.

Sanitation concerns were seen in the enclosures of all eight guinea pigs. The cages had feces collected in piles in the corner and were along the bedding area to where there was nowhere free of feces for the guinea pigs to walk on.

"The accumulation of feces and dirty bedding can result in illness and discomfort thus having the potential to negatively impact the well-being of the guinea pigs. Primary enclosures must be cleaned and\ sanitized often enough to prevent an accumulation of excreta," said the USDA.

Code Violation 3.56(a)(1) Sanitation

Citing another sanitation violation, the room that houses nine rabbits had a strong odor of urine and feces.

The trays under five of the rabbits enclosed had puddles of urine and excessive amounts of feces. Feces piles ranged from 1.5 to 2.5 inches in height in some areas.

In four of the rabbit's enclosures, the floor was stained a brown/red color.

"The accumulation of feces, unclean enclosures and unpleasant odors can result in illness and discomfort thus having the potential to negatively impact the well-being of the rabbits. Primary enclosures must be kept reasonably free of excreta, hair, and other debris by periodic cleaning," stated the USDA.

For each of these violations, a time of correction was added.

The USDA will do another routine inspection and if any of these violations are still present, the university can face civil penalties, criminal prosecution, or other sanctions for the alleged violations.

WGXA has reached out to Fort Valley State University to learn more about these violations and if steps have been taken to address them. 

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