TAMPA, PORTLAND, ST. LOUIS––The University of South Florida police department has reportedly opened an investigation into whether criminal acts were committed when water was withheld from monkeys overnight in April 2013 and three times in December 2013.
“At least one primate died, and several others developed ketosis,” alleged Stop Animal Exploitation Now cofounder Michael Budkie, who made the incident public in September 2014 and asked the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service to charge the University of South Florida with multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
As each alleged violation could bring a penalty of $10,000, Budkie said, “The resulting fine could exceed $100,000.”
After the SAEN complaint received Tampa-area news coverage, Budkie added, “local activist Vicki Halley contacted the [university] police.”
Said Halley, “Researchers should not use research as an excuse for deliberately causing defenseless animals to suffer and die. I contacted the USF Police Department to inquire about filing a complaint in order to begin an animal cruelty investigation.”
Incidents were self-reported
Reported Jerome R. Stockfisch of the Tampa Tribune, “USF said the research projects have been closed, the researcher’s animal research privileges have been revoked, and the remaining animals were eventually transferred to an accredited primate management site. USF self-reported the [first] violations of federal policy on the care of research animals to the National Institutes of Health in August 2013. The school said that on April 8, 2013, water bottles were removed overnight from the enclosures of 27 primates in the university’s College of Medicine animal facility. Protocols approved by a USF committee did not include the restriction of fluids.”
Continued Stockfisch, “USF again acknowledged researchers withheld water from primates for three nights in December 2013. USF veterinarians informed the school’s Research Integrity and Compliance office and its Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. The committee chair was also informed that four primates had experienced a condition called ketosis, an elevated level of ketones in the bloodstream that are formed when glycogen stores in the liver have run out. Those primates required veterinarian intervention that was not reported, USF said. One of the primates was unresponsive to treatment and was euthanized.”
Said a University of South Florida media statement, “After USF self-reported the incident, federal authorities accepted the corrective steps put in place by the university and consider the matter closed. USF no longer conducts any primate research projects.”
Pig punched in Oregon
SAEN disclosed Halley’s complaint to the University of South Florida police on the same day, October 6, 2014, that it issued two press releases about incidents at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland and Washington University in St. Louis, each beginning “A national research watchdog group said this week it is investigating a series of animal beatings and neglect around the country at universities where animals were punched and mistreated.”
“In February of 2014,” Budkie wrote in a complaint to USDA-APHIS western regional director Robert Gibbens, “Oregon Health Sciences University reported an incident in which OHSU staff intentionally struck a pig when unloading the pig as the animal was arriving during a shipment. Blood was found in the enclosure afterwards. OHSU staff apparently withheld this information for approximately 1 3/4 years before reporting it. We believe that this must indicate that either OHSU staff are afraid to report animal welfare concerns, or that this incident was deliberately hidden — possibly until the statute of limitations had expired for animal cruelty charges to be filed.”
Budkie reminded Gibbens that a July 2014 USDA inspection found that two monkeys at Oregon Health & Science University “were burned by a heating pad during a procedure. While these devices are often used as a way of supplying supplemental heat to animals recovering from surgical procedures,” Budkie acknowledged, “this is usually done without injuring the animals.”
In addition, Budkie recalled, “Oregon Health & Science University was cited in April of this year for multiple incidents of inadequate veterinary care and inadequate housing which were connected to deaths and injuries to animals. Now, just a few months later this same lab has injured two monkeys through additional negligence. It is clear,” Budkie said, “that this lab has a long-term pattern of negligence which kills and injures animals which must be punished severely.”
Dog struck in St. Louis
In a separate letter, Budkie complained to Gibbens that, “In December of 2012 Washington University reported an incident in which one staff person observed another ‘striking a conscious dog in the head with a closed fist on October 2, 2012.’ Apparently the responsible employee also had a ‘history of past rough handling of animals.’”
Budkie in the Oregon Health Sciences University and Washington University cases also asked USDA-APHIS to impose the maximum penalties of $10,000 per infraction.
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