The University of Washington (UW), a school with a well-earned reputation for neglect, incompetence, and utter disregard for the animals it imprisons, recently let animals in its laboratories starve to death, suffocate, and even slowly bake to death under a heat lamp that staff left unattended.
PETA has obtained federal reports that document a raft of 26 new animal welfare violations in the 22-month period between July 2021 and May 2023, reinforcing the reputation of the school, which also runs the Washington National Primate Research Center.
Among the violations are the following:
- Mice starved to death in six separate instances in which staffers failed to feed them.
- Mice suffocated because ventilation to their cage was effectively cut off.
- Mice baked to death after an employee placed them under a heat lamp and forgot about them.
- Staff cut off the tips of mice’s tails without giving them pain relief before or after.
- Experimenters gave the wrong dose of a drug to 123 mice over a 14-month period and watched as deaths exceeded the “normal” rate.
- Experimenters induced tumors in 80 mice but failed to monitor them. As a result, several mice developed ulcerated tumors, others developed large tumors exceeding 10% of their bodyweight, and three mice had already died by the time the failure was discovered.
According to the reports, monkeys are also not safe inside UW laboratories:
- In one incident, two monkeys suffered from kidney dysfunction, requiring veterinary treatment after staff administered a drug at too high a dosage.
- In another, a monkey used in a water-restricted behavioral experiment didn’t receive a ration of water, further adding to the animal’s discomfort and distress.
UW experimenters’ incompetence was, as always, on full display:
- An experimenter who was to euthanize malaria-infected mice missed a cage, extending the animals’ suffering.
- An experimenter who moved mouse pups from one cage to another missed one, who was found dead the next day.
The reports detail how UW experimenters also ignored the boundaries of experimentation set by the laboratory’s oversight committee, used unapproved drugs and unapproved methods to deliver drugs to animals, and conducted procedures on conscious animals who were supposed to be under anesthesia.
These latest violations are far from UW’s first, and they demonstrate an ongoing culture of callousness in the school’s laboratories, including those at its primate center. If these laboratories are unwilling or unable to uphold even the most basic protections afforded by federal standards, they should be shut down immediately and the surviving animals should be sent to reputable sanctuaries.