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Watchdog Group Files Complaint Against UW for Primate Abuse and Deaths, Calls for Fine for Federal Law Violations

13 Jun

A national research watchdog organization has completed a major investigation of the University of Washington, Seattle, and has filed an Official Complaint with the USDA noting numerous violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
Ohio-based Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) noted that federal law violations include multiple primate escapes, severe animal debilitation, severe limb contracture with skin ulcers, and deaths.

The SAEN investigation uncovered nine primate escapes including one where two escaping primates fought and injured each other requiring euthanasia for one of the monkeys. Nine primates were listed as emaciated or severely debilitated, three primates suffered from severe limb contracture and skin ulcers. Another primate had “linear crush” injuries, requiring amputations.

Overall, the SAEN complaint involves potentially dozens of federal violations connected to at least 22 primates in a period of roughly one year.

“The staff and researchers at the UW appear to be drastically unqualified, substantially inept, and unable to follow even the most basic requirements of animal husbandry,” said Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T., Executive Director, SAEN. “Not only is the UW unable to keep the monkeys in the cages, they are unable to prevent serious injuries during the escapes, some of which required euthanasia.”

View the official complaint as well as the UW records which were uncovered detailing their abuses in this PDF file.

New Photos Inside UW Primate Lab

29 Aug

Primates, cooped up in tiny cages, with few, if any, objects inside to distract them from the long hours of boredom. This is what new photos reveal that were taken inside of a primate research facility operated by the University of Washington. They were obtained by Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) and passed along to the public. It is rare that the public gets to see inside an animal research laboratory, or even that they exist in their neighborhood (the main facility used for experimentation on primates is an unmarked blue building nestled downtown across from the Seattle Art Museum’s sculpture park).

Their lengthy periods of visible boredom are broken only by painful procedures and operations that they are subjected to on a routine basis. They will never get to experience things that nature intended them to, such as fresh breezes, grass beneath their feet, playing in tree branches, or living with friends and family. Instead they live in what is their prison.

New Information from UW Documents Detail Further Primate Abuse

5 Jun

Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), a national organization that monitors animal laboratories, has recently released information contained in documents and photos that were obtained from the University of Washington, Seattle.  These photos and documents paint a vivid picture of the harsh reality daily inflicted on primates within this lab without even delving into gruesome experimental procedures.  Barren captivity, severe illnesses, and staff incompetence exact a heavy toll on these primates.

The bungling staff of UW is incapable of even doing simple things like making sure the primates are actually in their enclosures.  Within sixteen months, seven primates escaped from their enclosures, injuring either themselves or other primates in the process.  How many more primate escapes went undocumented?

According to UW primate health care records, many other animals were negligently injured.  On 2/27/11 Primate J97270 was injured because “AT reported injury to animal.  Animal grabbed scissors from AT” (AT may mean Animal Technician).  On 4/5/11 Primate K11027, an infant experiencing thermoregulation issues, is listed with “what looks to be burn trauma of the D5 of the left foot” after an external heat treatment.

Unfortunately, this insanity doesn’t stop here — UW documents are riddled with many more episodes of ineptitude.   On 1/20/11 Primate A07005 was not properly prepped for surgery:  “Veterinarian cancelled surgery as the animal appears to have had access to food.  . . .  Animal vomited large quantity of partially digested food and extubated itself.”   On 4/14/10 a botched surgical procedure occurred when a “1mm probe inadvertently penetrated brain tissue.”  Primate R08004 was simply found dead with “severe edema and swelling of head . . . Ingesta present in mouth and a few drops of blood noted on nose.”  Primate A07121 was euthanized because “During a routine blood draw, it was discovered that the animal had a fractured right femur.”  Apparently, the incompetent UW staff had failed to even notice a major broken bone.

Non-procedural injuries at UW are rampant, too.  In 2010, two traumatic incidents led to the amputation of eight inches from the tails of two UW primates.  On 4/3/11 the tips of several fingers on the left hand of Primate A06077 were avulsed (forcibly detached) exposing bone.  Primate K03150 is listed with two lacerations, a 5 cm injury and an older 10 cm injury.  By no means are these the only animals with traumatic injuries; the full list would roll on for several pages.

Not only does UW staff regularly violate federal animal welfare law, they also regularly violate their own internal animal care policy.  Illnesses frequently cause weight loss, but major weight loss indicates severe suffering and should never be allowed.  UW’s policy regarding “Permissible Weight Loss” states:  “The upper limit of acceptable weight loss in animals on experimental regimens shall be 20%.”  A 20% weight loss is excessive – comparable to a 150 pound human losing 30 pounds.  In violation of UW’s own policy, Primate J04245 lost “over 25%” of his body weight.  Similarly, Primate A06014 also had a major loss of weight:  “The animal has had a dermatological condition intermittently since ’07.  Recently, there has been a >20% body weight loss, and the dermatologic condition has been recurring.”  Primate A02006 also experienced major weight loss noted as “The animal eventually developed >25% body weight loss . . . .”  Primate 01134 suffered “approximately 30% weight loss” – now our 150 pound person is up to a 45 pound weight loss!  Primate 04044 is only noted as enduring a “profound weight loss” – one can only imagine what percentage profound means.  A human, or a primate, who losses this much weight would look like a walking skeleton, like a concentration camp victim.

All of these incidents of negligence and trauma paint a grueling picture that is almost too bizarre to be believed, if it weren’t based on the UW’s own records!  Primates regularly escape from their enclosures.  They are allowed access to scissors.  Traumatic injuries requiring amputation of major body parts are common.  And many primates are allowed to become so severely emaciated that they resemble walking skeletons.

Take Action Against the University of Washington:

1.  Contact Dr. Robert Gibbens to demand immediate action against the University of Washington,   Seattle. The criminal acts of this lab must be severely punished!

Dr. Robert Gibbens
Director, Western Region
USDA/APHIS/A
2150 Center Ave
Building B, Mailstop 3W11
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8117

(970) 494-7478
Robert.M.Gibbens@usda.gov

2.  Contact the President of the University of Washington, Michael K. Young, to demand that all abuse of primates at this criminal lab be terminated immediately. 

Michael K. Young
Office of the President
University of Washington
301 Gerberding Hall
Box 351230
Seattle, WA 98195

(206) 543-5010
pres@u.washington.edu

3. Support the campaigns by local groups to end the abuse of animals in labs in this area, such as the Northwest Animal Rights Organization, Seattle Animal Defense League, and Action for Animals.

UW’s Lies About Killing Animals Exposed

15 Nov

Earlier this year, the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), along with the Northwest Animal Rights Network and the Seattle Animal Defense League, called upon the University of Washington to end the use of live ferrets in their pediatrics residency training. Since then, over 20,000 supporters have emailed the UW, and other supporters attended a visible demonstration in front of the UW Medicine building, which garnered media coverage. We’ve got their attention, but now there’s more to the story.

Documents that have been obtained through Washington’s public records law reveal that there is more going on at UW than previously expected. The PCRM discovered that the UW was telling the public one thing, while the opposite was true. The PCRM place an ad in the school’s student newspaper, alerting students and faculty that UW has been lying about killing animals.

A faculty member at UW told the Seattle Times earlier this year that the school had stopped killing rabbits for chest tube placement training, but the documents that PCRM obtained prove otherwise. UW has also claimed that the ferrets used in pediatrics residency training are adopted out, but documents reveal that numerous ferrets have been killed in the past three years.

The lying doesn’t stop there. UW has told the public that the use of ferrets in endotracheal intubation training is necessary, but according to internal communications the head of newborn medicine reportedly stated that the use of ferrets will end “because we can’t prove that they are any better than a training manikin.”

But this really shouldn’t come as a surprise as the UW has been investigated, cited, and fined over numerous violations in their animal-based medical and research programs. For the UW, this is par for the course. Please let the UW administrators know that lying to the public is unacceptable, and that they should end the use of animals.

PCRM ad in the UW's student newspaper, The Daily

UW Fined for Monkey Deaths in Primate Research Lab

19 Oct

Transcript of the October 18, 2011 news broadcast on Q13 FOX

SEATTLE—

Every year, tens of thousands of monkeys are used as test subjects in labs around the country.

Schools defend such experiments as essential to the advancement of medicine. The Department of Agriculture conducts annual spot inspections of these facilities and can step in when problems are identified.

In the past five years at the University of Washington’s Primate Research Center one monkey died of malnutrition, two more were found to be kept in cages that were too small and one scientist was fined for performing an excessive number of surgeries on the same animals. The incidents were uncovered after an anonymous complaint led to a USDA investigation.

“They finally got along to levying a fine which is $10,000 and the University gets millions of dollars in research money, so this is just a little drop in their bucket,” said Rachel Bjork with Northwest Animal Rights Network. “They like to say they are doing ground breaking research. They like to say they’re saving lives but I’m trying to understand the connection between sticking coils in a monkey’s eyes and saving a human life.”

The University released a statement responding:

“The University of Washington takes great care to ensure that their animals are healthy and well-maintained. Any time there is an unexpected death of a research animal, the UW reports the incident to the USDA and provides full disclosure. Our goal is to provide advances in medical care and treatment. The USDA recently visited the UW and found no deficiencies in its animal care program.”

The USDA is also investigating Oregon Health Science University’s primate research center, and has levied similar fines against Harvard Medical School, Vanderbilt and Princeton for violations that led to animal deaths.

“To do this research, it’s wasteful and the fact of what they’re doing to these animals should be criminal,” said Bjork.

The University of Washington paid a $10,893 fine in April 2011. The USDA says if repeat violations are found in future inspections, the University could face steeper penalties.

Original story with video

Companies That Supply Animals to UW

17 Apr

If you are a “researcher” at the UW you can pretty much order any kind of animal you want to perform your “research” on – just put your order in and they will deliver you your “subject” like they were delivering a pizza. Of course the poor animal has no idea what is in store for him when he gets to the lab; perhaps gassing, burning, poisoning, stabbing, injecting with cancer and other horrible diseases, to name a few procedures. These animals will live horribly isolated and painful lives at the hands of students, PhD candidates and animal techs before they are murdered and disposed of as “biological waste.” These animals are delivered to the Health Sciences Building and the South Lake Union Building. The Animal Purchasing Office can be reached at 206-543-0640.

Here are the list of companies that make their money off the backs of suffering animals. This list is taken from the Department of Comparative Medicine’s website; while not viewable to the general public, it is accessible by any UW employee, student, or faculty. Perhaps you can contact these companies and let them know what you think of their practices, and in addition, you can put in a Better Business Bureau complaint about them for engaging in animal cruelty.

Boyd’s Bird Co Inc
Bird, delivery Wednesday
509-332-3109

Charles D Sullivan Co Inc
Amphibian, delivery Tuesday/Wednesday
615-832-0958

Charles River Laboratories
Gerbil, Guinea Pig, Hamster, Mouse, Rat, delivery Wednesday
800-522-7287

Covance Research Products, Inc.
Dog, delivery Wednesday
269-375-0482 (MI) 804-492-4181 (VA)

Elm Hill Labs / Cady Ridge Farms
Hartley/Pigmented Guinea Pig, delivery Tuesday/Wednesday
800-941-4349
“Quality Guinea Pigs” We have a cartoon slideshow!

Featherland Farms
Fertilized Eggs, Day Old Chicks, delivery Wednesday
541-484-6511

Harlan Sprague Dawley
Hamster, Mouse, Rat, Rabbit, delivery Tuesday
800-793-7287

Jackson Labs
Mouse, delivery Wednesday
800-422-6423
Use our secure online order form!

JM Hazen Frog Co
Frog, delivery Tuesday/Wednesday
802-796-3472

Magnolia Bird Farms
Bird, delivery Thursday
714-527-3387
“If you are a pet bird owner who can no longer keep your bird, we would be interested in talking to you about purchasing it from you. We will find a new and loving home for your pet.” And what a loving home it’ll be!

Marshall BioResources
Dog, Ferret, Minipig, delivery Tuesday
315-587-2295
We’ve got Beagles!

NASCO West
Frog, delivery Tuesday/Wednesday
209-545-1600

Progressive Pig Farm
Pig, delivery Monday
425-481-0938

Q-Bar Farm
Pig, delivery Mon/Tues/Wed
503-864-3273

Rana Ranch Bullfrog Farm
Bullfrog, delivery Tuesday/Wednesday
208-734-0899
We promise that our bullfrogs won’t escape!

R&R Rabbitry
Rabbit (Housed at HR&T or Pickup Only), delivery Wednesday
360-652-7157
We offer recommendations on how much to inject!

Simonsen Labs
Mouse, Rat (Conventional Facilities Only), delivery Tuesday/Wednesday
408-847-2002

Sinclair Research Center
Minipig, delivery Wednesday
573-387-4400
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

Taconic Farms
Mouse, Rat, delivery Wednesday
888-822-6642
We can do custom breeding!

Western Oregon Rabbit Co
Rabbit, delivery Wednesday
541-929-2245

WSU Swine Center
Pigs, delivery Monday
(phone number not listed)

Xenopus Express
Frog, delivery Wednesday
800-936-6787
You can dump stuff on frogs’ eyes!

Xenopus I Inc
Frog, delivery Wednesday
734-426-7763
“The Greatest Frog on Earth ™” Yes, we trademarked it!

Zebrafish International Resource Center
Zebrafish, delivery Tuesday/Wednesday
541-346-6028

Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine Files Suit Against UW

11 Feb

(PCRM News Release 02/11/2011) SEATTLE–Rabbits and live ferrets are unlawfully used in invasive and often lethal procedures in the pediatrics residency program at the University of Washington, says the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) in a federal complaint filed Feb. 10. Nonanimal education methods are used by more than 85 percent of U.S. pediatrics programs surveyed by PCRM, including Oregon Health & Science University, Yale-New Haven Medical Center, and Stanford University.

“It is unnecessary to traumatize and harm animals to teach pediatric emergency procedures, especially when validated simulators developed to replace animals are widely used,” says pediatrician Leslie Brown, M.D., a PCRM member who cosigned the federal complaint with John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C. “A human infant’s anatomy is different from a ferret’s or a rabbit’s, and residents at UW can get a better education using human patient simulators.”

Pediatrics training at the University of Washington involves using live ferrets for endotracheal intubation. This involves repeatedly forcing a plastic tube through the mouth and into the windpipe (trachea) of a live ferret. Animals used in these training procedures often suffer tracheal bruising, bleeding, scarring, severe pain, and even death. To teach chest tube insertion, UW faculty kill rabbits. Pediatrics trainees then make an incision and place a hollow drainage tube between the animals’ ribs.

UW could replace the use of animals with the tools available at its state-of-the-art Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies. The facility owns numerous simulators, including the SimNewB, which was developed in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics. If the institute were fully utilized, the university could immediately replace its use of animals without incurring additional costs.

UW’s animal use program has a track record of negligence, resulting in numerous cited violations of the Animal Welfare Act. For example, UW was cited in 2009 when a nonhuman primate starved to death due to neglect and in 2007 when unauthorized surgeries were performed on pigs.

PCRM’s complaint, which is being filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Western Region Animal Care office, states, “UW is further violating the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) because superior training methods exist that could replace the school’s use of live animals for pediatrics education.” It further alleges inadequate oversight in the approval of the training protocol by the school’s animal care committee.

The Animal Welfare Act’s implementing regulations “require that a principal investigator—including course instructors—consider alternatives to procedures that may cause more than momentary or slight pain or distress to any animal used for research purposes.”

Read the complaint (pdf).

UW Lab Starves Primate to Death, USDA Issues Citation

9 Jan

Recently obtained federal reports reveal major violations of the Animal Welfare Act within the labs of the University of Washington.

The September 17, 2009 USDA inspection report cites the UW for an incident in which neglect on the part of staff at the University of Washington’s National Primate Research Center resulted in a male pigtailed macaque dying of “malnutrition” after losing 25% of his/her body weight. The USDA officials said the monkey had had not been weighed regularly as required by the university’s own protocols.

The UW was cited by the USDA for violations in the areas of inadequate veterinary care, inadequate housing and enclosures. The same USDA inspection noted a problem with two adult male baboons, being used for neurological studies. Cages were designed so that when the animals were on the perches where they usually sleep, they were unable to “sit upright in a normal manner” because of 2-inch-tall implants in their heads.

If researchers cannot even manage to keep animals properly fed, then they should not be allowed to use animals for their research. One wonders what else occurs hidden from view.

USDA UW Inspection Report Sept 17, 2009, Page 1

USDA UW Inspection Report Sept 17, 2009, Page 2

USDA UW Inspection Report Sept 17, 2009, Page 3

UW Investigated for Unauthorized Monkey Surgeries

27 Feb

On Tuesday, 26 February, KOMO TV in Seattle ran an expose’ of unauthorized and extremely painful surgeries performed on monkeys at UW and the resulting investigation by the USDA which may lead to defunding and penalties.Watch the video of broadcast here

(KOMO 4 NEWS, story by Tracy Vedder) SEATTLE — In a hidden part of the University of Washington campus, hundreds of monkeys live and die for research. They undergo experimental surgeries and tests until their usefulness is over.

The federal government pays the university millions for this research. But a Problem Solvers investigation has uncovered that some of those millions are in jeopardy and the university is under investigation because of unauthorized surgeries on monkeys.

Every year, UW scientists use hundreds of monkeys — from babies to adults — for all types of research that may help thousands of people.

Primate Center Director Dave Anderson offers one example of how their research helps: “We have other investigators in our Primate Center looking at ways to address, say, people who have strokes or people who have spinal chord injuries.”

But over the past year and a half, one group of researchers at the university has been at the center of a series of investigations for performing dozens of unauthorized surgeries on monkeys.

“I think these are very serious violations,” says PETA Primatologist Debra Durham. “They’re surgeries on animals’ heads and on their eyes.”

Researchers implant coils on the monkeys’ eyeballs, thread wires up the skull and put a metal cylinder – sometimes two – into holes drilled in the monkey’s skull.

Through public disclosure requests we obtained thousands of pages of internal e-mails and reports from the UW and federal agencies. Some of the surgeries were approved, many more were not. We found evidence that some monkeys underwent a dozen or more surgeries, as the eye coils and head chambers were removed and replaced, again and again.

Durham has read the monkeys’ medical records and says there is evidence many of them suffered. Describing one monkey, she says he, “pulls out his hair, he self-mutilates, he drinks his own urine.”

Federal law requires all of the UW’s animal researchers and experiments to be approved and enforced by the university’s animal oversight group, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Nona Phillips, executive secretary of the committee, says their number-one concern is “humane treatment of the animals in the course of scientifically necessary research.”

But there is evidence the IACUC ignored warnings about problems with too many surgeries on monkeys, and that even when a federal agency found protocol violations the committee chose to close the investigation rather than look deeper.

It started nearly two years ago when an international accrediting agency, the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, put the University on probation. That was primarily for problems with its buildings and facilities — the association’s main focus.

But AAALAC also questioned the number of experimental surgeries on monkeys, as internal e-mails we found clearly show. When asked how UW’s IACUC responded to those questions, Phillips said, “Well, AAALAC didn’t give us a deficiency or anything like that about the number of surgeries performed on any given animal, it’s up to the IACUC to approve those.”

So the UW’s oversight committee did nothing. Then, five months later at the end of October 2006, the USDA found that three of UW researcher Albert Fuchs’ monkeys had had many more surgeries than the rules allowed.

As required, IACUC’s Nona Phillips reported the violations with a phone call to UW Compliance Officer Sue Clausen. The Problem Solvers found handwritten notes of that conversation, where Clausen writes “it’s probably the tip of the iceberg,” and, referring to Phillips, “she’s going to keep her head in sand on this.”

When asked to what that referred, Phillips replied, “I really don’t know, Tracy.”

So we asked Compliance Officer Clausen.

“I literally stood and wrote notes while she talked,” Clausen said, adding that the notes aren’t her deductions or inferences. What she wrote down, she said, are the words Nona Phillips actually used. But Clausen claims what Phillips said isn’t what she meant.

When we asked Clausen if it’s okay for Phillips as the head of the UW’s Office of Animal Welfare to say that she’s going to keep her head in the sand, Clausen replied, “I’m saying that she used terminology that didn’t reflect her intent to not do the right thing. To presume that any of this implies that she’s not looking out for the animals, that she’s not doing her job is, well, ridiculous.”

But after the USDA found violations, no one from the IACUC looked to see if there were more unauthorized surgeries.

Phillips admits the oversight committee didn’t examine the rest of the monkeys in Dr. Fuchs’ protocol, they didn’t look at the other monkeys’ medical records, they didn’t check his lab logs and they didn’t look at any other researchers to see if there were other problems.

Phillips said they didn’t look further, “because we had no reason to think that the USDA had not identified all of the issues.”

The university’s IACUC closed the case on Dr. Fuchs with a letter of reprimand.

PETA’s Durham called the matter shameful, and believes the University did put its head in the sand. “And when they choose to ignore violations, they’re choosing to ignore suffering,” she said.

PETA complained to the National Institutes of Health, which pays hundreds of millions of dollars to the University of Washington for animal research.

The NIH reopened the investigation and, only then did IACUC find that instead of one researcher and three monkeys subjected to too many experimental surgeries, there were 14 monkeys, five UW researchers, and 41 unauthorized surgeries.

The UW insists it did everything it should.

“No one was trying to cover it up,” says Primate Center Director Anderson, “everyone was being absolutely forthright and honest about it.”

The researchers under investigation brought in nearly $9 million in federal grant money. The NIH says it could be a couple more months before they determine how much of that money the university has to pay back.

Since the feds reopened their investigation, the UW has launched its own new oversight effort with paid staff to visit each research lab, examine their log books, and check their animals. But there are between 600 and 700 animal experiments going on at any one time at the UW, so it’s an enormous task.

View the full list of animals examined in the investigation:
Part One, Part Two