PETA is demanding that the University of California San Francisco return a $2.1 million research grant after chilling reports of gruesome animal cruelty were uncovered.
The animal rights organization’s demand relates to one of countless tales of animals suffering in horrific conditions at UCSF, which has one of the largest medical research programs in the country.Recipients of research grants are required by the National Institutes of Health to adhere to a lab animal welfare policy. Seven years ago, UCSF paid $92,500 to settle federal findings that its researchers had violated the Animal Welfare Act.
Now NIH reports which have recently become public record have revealed that incidents of animal neglect and mistreatment have persisted.
Some of the worst abuses include laboratory mice having toes removed without anesthesia. Several animals - including birds and a squirrel monkey - receive little or no pain medication after surgical procedures. One primate was starved for weeks, while mice were allowed to die of thirst.
Animal rights supporters complain that a $92,500 fine is lose change to the university in comparison to the research grants which bring in millions of dollars. Critics of the system argue that there is not a strong enough incentive for UCSF to improve standards.
The tragic case study that has so angered PETA relates to a female monkey called Petra.
Researchers studying Parkinson’s disease implanted a device in Petra’s skull so that gene therapy could be delivered directly to her brain. As is common practice, the screws were left in the monkey’s skull when the device was removed.
Vets soon noticed that Petra became lethargic and picked continually at the spot on her head. Over the next two years the veterinary staff treated her with painkillers, further surgery and even removed the screws, but the wound remained unhealed.
Only after two years of persistent pain for Petra, did vets find that a piece of acrylic had been left in her head since the 2008 implant.
A photo of the miserable-looking monkey, with a wide, red wound at the top of her head was taken by federal inspector who arrived unannounced just days after the acrylic was removed. Three week later, researchers euthanized Petra.
'Allowing an animal to remain on a study for almost two years while undergoing repeated invasive treatments for chronic complications of the study is not consistent with the intent of this section of the Animal Welfare Act,' the inspector wrote.
'Keeping an animal on study under these circumstances does not avoid or minimize discomfort, distress, or pain to that animal.'
The inspector also cited UCSF for failing to remove foreign material, a violation of the research protocol. Although the university says its study led to a clinical trial now under way, the inspector made it clear that Petra should not have been involved once her distress was evident.
'There are many thousands of animals suffering every day, and on top of that, you have UCSF failing to provide many of them with adequate veterinary care when they're sick,' said Justin Goodman of PETA, which is calling on the National Institutes of Health to force UCSF to return the $2.1 million grant that funded the study in which Petra was involved.
UCSF has one of the largest medical research programs in the country and relies on hundreds of thousands of animals as its researchers try to develop treatments for diseases of all kinds.
The USDA enforces the Animal Welfare Act at research institutions around the country, usually with one unannounced visit a year. The inspectors look for violations, which can trigger a second unannounced visit to see if they’re fixed.
'The university takes very seriously the care and use of the animals it studies, beginning with ensuring that as few animals as possible are used in research,' spokeswoman Barbara French told the San Francisco Chronicle.She said UCSF uses computer models and cultured cells for research if it can. If those won’t work, researchers turn to animals.
adoptpets: It is so sad & disgusting that this shit still happens in America. Experimenting & torturing animals is not ok! If humans want to experiment, then we need to do it to willing consenting humans, not by enslaving innocent animals.