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March 25, 2014 at 5:55 PM

USDA criticizes UW for treatment of research animals

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued a report criticizing the University of Washington for failing to provide adequate pain medicine to some of its research animals.

The routine inspection done by USDA investigators Feb. 28 found a number of irregularities in the university’s animal-research labs.

The report found the UW failed to give a second dose of pain medicine to 30 rabbits after they underwent surgery, as well as to a guinea pig, which later died. USDA officials also noted that researchers were not able to explain how a rabbit in the research lab fractured its pelvis and later died.

The officials observed that a research assistant placed a semi-conscious macaque monkey on a cart before walking away to open a door; the monkey could have fallen off the cart and been injured. And the report noted that 13 macaque monkeys in one room were secured with dangling chains that could have gotten caught in their enclosures.

David Anderson, UW executive director of Health Sciences Administration, said the university is taking the findings seriously and has done short-term and longer-term reviews of the program, including retraining for some staff members. The macaques are being restrained with shorter chains, he said.

The inspection was likely prompted by a complaint filed by Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, an Ohio animal-welfare group that has been critical of the way the UW and many other universities use animals for research. SAEN filed a complaint after learning of the rabbit treatment, according to a press release from the group, and it praised the USDA for taking the issues seriously.

The UW has about 600,000 research animals, more than 98 percent of which are fish or mice. All other species combined — including rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, cats and monkeys — account for about 1.5 percent of animals used in research there, Anderson said.

Comments | More in Education | Topics: research, University of Washington


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