Animal exploitation group calls for investigation into Ames USDA facility
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Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Animal Welfare Operations, USDA-APHIS
[email protected]  
[email protected]

Animal exploitation group calls for investigation into Ames USDA facility

From Danielle Gehr, Ames Tribune, February 17, 2022

An animal exploitation abolitionist group filed complaints against an Ames United States Department of Agriculture facility after a death of a fawn in their care and the misplacing of four others.

In a letter to USDA Director of Welfare Operations Robert Gibbens, Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! calls for the firing of personnel at the Ames National Animal Disease Center, 1920 Dayton Ave., and an investigation over two incidents, one leading to the death of a fawn. 

"We believe it's important to stand up for the animals in every animal laboratory," SAEN founder Michael Budkie said. "It is extremely hypocritical for them (USDA) to be citing other laboratories for violating the Animal Welfare Act when they can't live up to it themselves."

The Ames facility and the USDA Animal Plant & Health Inspection did not return requests for comment.
The facility has more than 3,000 animals, according to a USDA report, more than two-thirds of which are mice. The facility has 116 deer in its care.

In one incident cited by SAEN, a student employee ran over the fawn at 6:30 a.m. June 8 during a morning search for fawns. The fawn later died. 

In another incident, deer were left locked in a working box July 7 where they remained for the next three days until they were discovered. According to a USDA report, an adequate headcount of the deer had not been completed for several days.
The report described the four deer as "hungry" when found and it is unclear whether they had any access to food. 

"If there had been any health issues with these animals, they could have become serious, even fatal, due to the lack of observation," the letter reads. 

The organization asserts these are violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The incidents violated USDA "Animal Handling" guidelines and "personnel qualifications," SAEN argues, "because thoroughly trained and qualified staff would actually have noticed that they were missing four deer." 
SAEN filed three other recent complaints against USDA facilities across the country, including an incident where 106 cattle were left without water in extreme heat in Montana and a facility in Nebraska where a calf was run over by staff.

The Animal Welfare Act requires a committee review, and investigation if necessary, regarding any concerns of animal welfare. Budkie said SAEN has not yet received an acknowledgment of the complaint.

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