Media Coverage About SAEN Stop Animal Exploitation Now

Animal advocacy group calls for sanctions after problems at University of Michigan


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

Please levy the MAXIMUM FINE against the University of Michigan for their blatant disregard of the Animal Welfare Act which led to seven violations in approximately two months, and took the lives of multiple animals and caused lab staff to be temporarily banned from animal use. Their behavior should NOT be tolerated and MUST be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Animal advocacy group calls for sanctions after problems at University of Michigan

From Matthew Dolan, Detroit Free Press, July 18, 2023

An animal advocacy group is criticizing the University of Michigan for problems with its federal Department of Agriculture inspections.

The Ohio-based group, Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, or SAEN, a national watchdog nonprofit that investigates animal abuse and illegal activities related to animals at U.S. research facilities, said the university "broke federal law seven times in two month(s)." The university, in a written statement to the Free Press, did not address allegations specifically, but said its researchers are attentive to animals used in scientific research and committed to fixing problematic incidents when they arise

SAEN said it had obtained two USDA reports detailing multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act at the the Ann Arbor-based university during two inspections in March and May of this year.

Among the problems, according to SAEN, were inadequate veterinary care, animal handling and qualifications of those handling animals.

SAEN said it has called on the department animal welfare operations to impose "a full prosecution of the University of Michigan and a federal fine of $12,722 per infraction/per animal."

In a statement, SAEN co-founder Michael Budkie said the incidents cited in federal reports chronicle the loss of two animals, including one which was not euthanized correctly. He also said some members of the university's lab staff had been suspended from all animal use for utilizing an uncertified anesthetic machine. There were also problems with expired drugs and the use of unapproved procedures.

In a June letter obtained by SAEN, the university wrote to federal investigators that it had suspended animal handlers for a minimum of 60 days after they were found to have used an uncertified anesthesia machine on four rabbits. After the suspension, the university wrote, there would be greater oversight by an attending veterinarian for a minimum of six months.

The Michigan Daily newspaper reported in February that People for Ethical Treatment of Animals also filed a complaint against the university with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that month, accusing U-M of violating 18 federal animal welfare guidelines between 2018 and 2022.

In a written statement this month to the Free Press, the university wrote that it "recognizes that working with animals to advance scientific and medical knowledge is a responsibility that requires our constant attention

"In accordance with federal regulatory expectations, any incidents are corrected immediately upon discovery, and U-M self-reports any incidents to appropriate authorities."

The statement from spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen concluded that the university "will continue to insist upon the humane and ethical treatment of all animals and is committed to ensuring that any individual who is afforded the privilege of working with animals under university auspices does so ethically, respectfully, and responsibly."

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