Repeated Animal Welfare Act violations found in follow-up inspection
EVERETT, Washington––Citing repeated and continuing alleged violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act by the Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories’ facility in Everett, Washington, Stop Animal Exploitation on June 19, 2017 asked USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service western regional director Robert Gibbens to terminate the SNBL licenses to sell animals and to do animal research.
The SAEN request comes just six months after SAEN won a near-record $185,000 USDA-APHIS fine against SNBL, a U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese-owned contract research conglomerate.
“Following the incidents for which SNBL was penalized $185,000 “ SAEN cofounder Michael Budkie wrote to Gibbens, “SNBL has thumbed their noses at the USDA, and committed new non-compliances by abusing over 45 monkeys and guinea pigs. If any animal lab/dealer deserves to be closed it is SNBL.”
“I am certain that the purpose of the $185,000 penalty, the third largest ever levied against a lab, was to force this recalcitrant facility to comply with the law,” Budkie continued. “It is amazing to me that a penalty of this magnitude has been ineffective.”
“We take these allegations seriously”
The highly secretive SNBL company has said little to media in response to repeated fines for Animal Welfare Act violations, but in October 2016, with the $185,000 fine pending, SNBL executive vice president Steven Glaza said in a written statement that “We take these allegations seriously and are fully cooperating with the USDA to ensure that we are in complete compliance. This is everyone’s priority.”
Glaza added that SNBL is “committed to the humane, ethical and appropriate care of all animals.”
“As you know,” Budkie reminded Gibbens, “SNBL was inspected [again] on May 1, 2017.”
Guinea pigs left with open wounds
Inspector Diane Forbes, DVM, cited SNBL for “the unrelieved pain of 40 guinea pigs who were used in ‘full-thickness skin irradiation’ studies,” Budkie recounted. “According to the report, ‘Forty animals had open wounds (partial to full thickness loss of skin at the irradiated site) and varying degrees of redness and swelling immediately surrounding the irradiated site, indicating substantial inflammation. The test facility noted 19 animals with ‘distress when picked up’ with ‘an open wound at the irradiation site.’
“Apparently 75% of these suffering and abused animals did not receive any pain relief,” Budkie charged. “The research staff at SNBL failed to follow their own protocol, did not administer pain relief as required, and failed to provide veterinary care to these animals.
Monkey injuries & deaths
“This same inspection,” Budkie said, “contains a Critical Repeat citation regarding a monkey whose radius and ulna were both fractured.”
This citation is identified as a repeated violation of the Animal Welfare Act because SNBL was previously cited in November 2016 for “the death of an infant macaque monkey due to maternal neglect, which was caused by staff negligence,” Budkie recalled, specifically that SNBL “returned the infant to the wrong mother, resulting in death. This inspection report also cited SNBL for the asphyxiation death of a male cynomolgus macaque who was found dead with a nine-inch chain wrapped around his neck.”
SNBL was also cited, added Budkie, “for inadequate euthanasia methods” in connection with “multiple protocols involving beagles, monkeys, and pigs,” and “because multiple primates were not being treated for stereotypical behaviors such as flipping and ripping out their hair,” as well as feces-flinging and smearing in one instance.
Budkie asked that SNBL should “receive the maximum in fines for these new infractions as well as all others which were the subject of previous citations –– $10.000 per infraction/per animal as well as the permanent suspension of their animal dealer license and the surrender of the SNBL research facility registration. In short, this animal lab/dealer should be permanently prevented from working with USDA regulated animals.
Previous fine said to be too light
SAEN, the Animal Welfare Institute, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals all denounced as too light the near-record $185,000 fine and other penalties issued against SNBL by the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service in December 2016.
Acting on a complaint filed by SAEN in May 2014, USDA-APHIS on that occasion suspended the SNBL dealer’s permit to trade in monkeys for 30 days.
Emphasized USDA-APHIS in announcing the fine and permit suspension, “The gravity of the violations alleged in this complaint is great and includes 38 deaths of nonhuman primates. Alleged violations occurred over an extended period of time,” from December 2011 through May 2016, USDA-APHIS said.
25 monkeys died in one 2013 incident
Summarized Everett Herald reporter Jim Davis, “The majority of the monkey deaths — 25 of the 38 — happened in October 2013, when the company sent 840 long-tailed macaques from Cambodia, to Houston, Texas. Upon arrival, SNBL veterinarians observed that that the monkeys were thirsty and appeared weak, thin and in poor shape. The company did not provide veterinary care to the macaques, but sent 360 of them to its facility in Alice, Texas and 480 to Everett. Five macaques died before arrival, 17 died or were euthanized shortly after, and three more monkeys died in the next five days.”
“On the radar since 2002”
Animal Welfare Institute president Cathy Liss observed that SNBL “has been on the USDA’s enforcement radar since at least 2002,” having been fined at least three times before the $185,000 fine.
“The USDA did not issue any fine, however, after a monkey was boiled alive in a cage washer at SNBL in 2007,” Liss said.
Tried to hide the evidence
Noted Houston Press reporter Craig Malisow, “The USDA—in concert with SNBL—filed a ‘motion to seal’ to prevent vital facts from this case being made available to the general public. As a result, a redacted complaint replaced the original document on the hearing docket, with crucial information blacked from the public eye. The motion to seal indicated a buckling by the USDA to the wishes of the company to keep the case details quiet.”