Surgeries Without Pain Relief, Dehydration Deaths, Monkeys Nearly Drained of Blood in Pitt Labs

PETA Files Complaint, Citing Same Incompetence Documented in Its 2017 Undercover Investigation

For Immediate Release:
August 23, 2022

Amanda Hays 202-483-7382

Pittsburgh – After uncovering 74 violations of federal animal welfare guidelines in the University of Pittsburgh’s (Pitt) laboratories between 2017 and 2022, PETA is urging Chancellor Patrick Gallagher to prohibit violators from having any contact with animals and is filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

The federal reports obtained by PETA document scores of horrific incidents, including the following:

  • Experimenters failed to give adequate pain relief to more than 100 pigs, rats, and mice used in painful, invasive procedures, including spinal cord surgeries, pancreatic tumor removals, lung transplants, and brain surgeries as well as tail clipping, post-burn biopsies, and implantation of pumps into their backs.
  • Two monkeys endured severe respiratory distress when their chain collars became entangled. One of them died.
  • On at least six occasions, experimenters failed to euthanize rats, mice, and their pups properly and threw them into carcass bags or coolers while they were still alive.
  • On three separate occasions, the temperatures in the room where animals were housed dropped so low that several mice and rats died, and a litter of mouse pups was cannibalized by their mother, likely due to cold stress.
  • Experimenters repeatedly failed to provide even the most basic necessities, including food, water, oxygen, and light to numerous animals.
  • In 25 separate incidents, more than 50 mice died from starvation or dehydration.

One experimenter, Ivona Pandrea, a repeat offender, was temporarily suspended after racking up several serious violations, including drawing more blood from four monkeys than what had been approved, causing the animals to become severely anemic. In its 2017 undercover investigation into Pitt laboratories, PETA revealed that six monkeys used in experiments by Pandrea had been moved to a room but no one told staff that the monkeys were infected with simian immunodeficiency virus and that the room was therefore a biohazard. PETA’s investigation documented dozens of incidents of neglect, incompetence, and deviations from approved experimental protocols.

“Pitt’s labs are cesspools of misery and death for the animals imprisoned within their walls,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “The feds should shut them down now before more animals are harmed and humans put in danger.”

Pitt received nearly $600 million in taxpayer funds last year from the National Institutes of Health. Yet studies show that 95% of new drugs that test safe and effective in animals fail in human clinical trials. PETA is calling on the school to adopt the Research Modernization Deal, developed by PETA scientists, which provides a strategy for replacing animals with modern, high-tech research methods.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind