Animal Suffering Routine at University of Pittsburgh, Federal Records Show

PETA Exposes More Than 50 Violations of Animal-Welfare Guidelines

For Immediate Release:
July 11, 2017

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


The University of Pittsburgh failed to comply with minimal federal animal-welfare guidelines—a requirement of institutions receiving tax dollars—more than 50 times between January 1, 2015, and April 1, 2017, federal records obtained by PETA show.

The documents from the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare demonstrate that animal suffering—such as that exposed by PETA in March with the release of its five-month eyewitness investigation—is business as usual at Pitt.

The records, obtained by PETA through a Freedom of Information Act request, detail dozens of incidents in which neglect, incompetence, and deviations from approved experimental protocols resulted in pain, injury, misery, and death for animals in Pitt’s laboratory. In one taxpayer-funded study, experimenters addicted mice to cocaine and deliberately induced stress in 16 of them by restraining them in narrow cone-shaped tubes for 16 hours. One animal chewed his or her way out, nine were found dead, and the remaining six were found in such poor condition that they had to be euthanized. In another bizarre study, Pitt experimenters surgically joined pairs of mice. At least 166 mice used in these experiments weren’t given any post-operative pain relief.

Other incidents include the following:

  • Mice died from dehydration when no one noticed that the watering system had failed.
  • Living mice were discovered in bags and freezers intended for dead animals.
  • Mice were left inside cages in boxes, on the floor, and in remote parts of the laboratory, where they died, forgotten.
  • A mouse with a severe leg and foot lesion and exposed muscle wasn’t euthanized as the protocol required but rather was moved to an unapproved area, where he remained for two weeks until discovered by a veterinary technician.
  • Mice’s toes were amputated without anesthetics.

Pitt received nearly half a billion dollars in grants in 2016, and an estimated half of this money would have funded experiments on animals.

“The University of Pittsburgh has repeatedly violated animal-welfare regulations and should not be given one more dime of taxpayer money,” says Dr. Alka Chandna, chief of laboratory case management for PETA’s Laboratory Investigations Department. “PETA is calling on the National Institutes of Health to stop funding this egregiously cruel facility.”

Following PETA’s eyewitness exposé of Pitt, federal authorities confirmed a number of PETA’s findings, including that mice were found dead in cages, that cages were wet and even flooded, and that improperly housed mice were so severely injured from fighting that they had to be euthanized.

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