Remember the University of Connecticut story from a couple of weeks ago? Long story short: the USDA fined the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC) for seven violations of the Animal Welfare Act, stemming from experiments in which a guy named David Waitzman bolted restraint devices to monkeys’ heads, drilled holes in their skulls, attached electrodes to their brains, and fastened small wire coils directly to their eyeballs.
Well we just took it a step further and filed a formal complaint with state auditors Kevin P. Johnston and Robert G. Jaekle urging them to investigate possible violations of the University of Connecticut’s Code of Conduct as well as the possible misuse of public funds and property by the UCHC, its institutional Animal Care Committee (ACC), and UCHC animal experimenter David Waitzman.
Based on UConn graduate student Justin Goodman’s 2005 complaints, the USDA confirmed that Waitzman was consistently in violation of laws governing the care and use of animals in research. Waitzman had received more than $1.7 million in federal funds to conduct the experiments, and part of his salary, the entire salaries of his support staff, and his overhead expenses were funded by state taxpayers, who will also have to pick up the tab for the $5,532 fine. Also, UCHC officials made false public statements regarding Waitzman’s experiments.
UConn’s Code of Conduct requires that faculty and staff abide by all federal, state, and institutional laws and regulations regarding the use of animals. However, since March 2003, UCHC has been cited for more than 65 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act related to the treatment of monkeys, cats, gerbils, guinea pigs, and rabbits at the facility. These violations include failure to employ personnel who were qualified to handle nonhuman primates, thus causing physical harm to the animals; failure to consider alternatives to painful procedures; failure to provide appropriate sedatives to animals; failure to painlessly euthanize a monkey who experienced severe tremors and seizures for more than six months; and conducting unauthorized experiments.
Here’s what PETA VP Bruce Friedrich had to say on the issue, “UConn has been torturing animals, making a mockery of its Code of Conduct, and squandering taxpayers’ money in the process, UCHC’s negligence and lack of oversight led directly to the prolonged suffering and deaths of animals, and we’re calling on the state to impose all appropriate disciplinary measures.”
I’ll keep you posted as things progress . . .