The University of Florida’s animal experimentation program is under intense scrutiny by an animal rights group and the US Department of Agriculture after receiving a number of citations, including one considered as criticism that the university subjected cats to unnecessary pain and suffering.
The government’s critical citation was released on July 28, 2020, after determining that four cats that were undergoing bone marrow surgery were not given the proper anesthesia and should be euthanized.
Stop animal exploitation NOW! also accused the UF program of accidentally setting rats on fire twice during surgery, subjecting a rat to increased pain and distress while researching traumatic brain injury, and accidentally boiled two rats alive that were still inside a cage during its sterilization.
Because mice and rats are not protected by animal welfare law, the Department of Agriculture did not investigate these deaths.
The university was also cited by the Department of Agriculture on July 28 for failing to report that it suspended two sheep experiments due to failure to follow approved surgical technique and reduction procedures. pain as well as proper sanitation. These were corrected shortly thereafter.
Michael Budkie, director of Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, said critical nonconformances are only issued at about 2% of government-inspected research facilities, which he says puts the University of Florida in ” bad company”.
Budkie said his group collects information on about 1,000 labs a year, and there are only 35 to 40 protocol suspensions a year.
He said UF’s problems are glaring.
“We certainly don’t see many labs where animals are accidentally set on fire and/or run through cage washers,” Budkie said. “It is something extremely unusual. And then suspending the protocols is also something very unusual.”
The University of Florida declined to comment but released a statement:
“The University of Florida is committed to the ethical use of animals in its pursuit of medical advances that benefit both humans and animals. Almost every drug, treatment, medical device, diagnostic tool, or cure we have today were developed with the help of laboratory animals Animal research at UF is governed by a federally mandated Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee that reviews all applications authorization to use vertebrate animals and inspects all areas where animals are housed and used.
“UF’s animal care and use program has been accredited for many years by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, a distinction that reflects the commitment of the university towards the responsible use of animals in research. UF Animal Care Services is staffed by veterinary professionals who are committed to providing high quality, humane animal care.
The Department of Agriculture also released a statement.
“Critical nonconformities are considered serious. The definition of ‘critical non-compliance’ can be found in Animal Care’s inspection guide which is published online,” the statement said.
According to the guide, these citations relate to incidents that “have had a serious or serious adverse effect on the health and welfare of the animal” and include several examples that have resulted in pain or death.
“With regard to protocol suspensions, the inspection report documents what happened,” the government statement continued. “The University of Florida has a current and active registration and therefore may conduct research activities under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Please note that laboratory rats and mice are not regulated by the AWA. »
Budkie wants action taken against the university.
“In correspondence that we have published, we have asked the University of Florida to terminate projects related to all of these specific incidents, because we believe that if research personnel are systematically violating federal laws, they should not be allowed to use animals in experimentation,” he said.
“It’s as if an individual was, for example, arrested for impaired driving, he lost his driver’s license. Same thing. shouldn’t be any different.