University Cited and Fined for Abuse of Animals

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Update: Based on PETA complaints documenting abuse and neglect of animals in the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston’s laboratories, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has taken the rare step of fining the facility $9,143 for egregious violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act—including failing to supply veterinary care to a sheep who had been used in experimental back surgery and could not stand up, failing to supply adequate veterinary care to a goat who died on an operating table, and failing to supply post-procedural pain relief to three sheep used in experimental surgeries.

Originally posted on May 24th:

We’ve told you previously how the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston was cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) after PETA filed a complaint detailing the egregious abuse of animals in its laboratories. After obtaining internal documents revealing hellish conditions for animals in laboratories at the facility, PETA filed another complaint earlier this year—and now UTMB has been cited for the second time in 15 months for flagrant violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including failure to provide sick and injured animals with adequate veterinary care.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop—’Til the Truth Comes Out

Following the initial successful complaint to the USDA (based on information provided by a laboratory insider), PETA submitted a Texas Freedom of Information Act request to UTMB asking for documents related to the treatment of animals in its laboratories. UTMB initially tried to use various legal exemptions to avoid releasing the records, but PETA’s attorneys successfully argued the case, leading the Texas attorney general to order UTMB to hand over the documents.

Those documents revealed neglectful treatment of animals that had gone previously undetected by federal inspectors and that PETA identified and communicated to the USDA in March 2012, prompting the agency to cite UTMB for violations of federal law. The following are a couple of examples:

  • A sheep identified only as “572M” was subjected to third-degree burns over 20 percent of her body and was forced to inhale smoke in experiments conducted by Daniel Traber. The following day, the burn lesions were cut off, and skin was grafted over the wounds. There was no indication of post-operative pain relief in any of 572M’s records—a failure that was confirmed in the USDA’s inspection report. Eighteen days after she was burned, 572M was killed.
  • A 4-year-old marmoset monkey identified as “#28046” was subjected to viral and bacterial infections of his central nervous system in experiments conducted by Mark Estes. Monkeys used in the experiments endured bloody nasal discharge, anorexia, lethargy, ruffled coats, and ocular discharge before being killed. #28046 was described as being “very thin” and “dehydrated” and as “nonresponsive in rest box … hunched … hypothermic … thin/emaciated.” Ten days after #28046’s condition was noted, the monkey was found dead in his cage.

How You Can Help Animals in UTMB Laboratories

These heartbreaking stories show that animal experimenters—even those at supposedly top-tier institutions like UTMB—can’t be trusted to abide by even the minimal standards of the Animal Welfare Act. As long as animals continue to suffer in laboratories, PETA will continue to be vigilant in monitoring what experimenters are doing. Animals in laboratories need each of us to stop the cruelty in laboratories at UTMB—and everywhere else!

Please urge Shriners International—which has funded UTMB’s burn experiments on animals for more than 30 years—to stop supporting this cruelty.

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