Update: Newly Released Federal Records Confirm Widespread Abuse in WashU Animal Laboratories

PETA Calls On Board of Trustees to Suspend University's Animal Experiments, Conduct Audit

For Immediate Release:
December 13, 2018

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

St. Louis – Armed with damning new federal records that reveal chronic violations of federal animal-welfare guidelines and regulations at Washington University in St. Louis (WashU), PETA has sent an urgent letter calling on the school’s Board of Trustees to intervene and remedy the apparent culture of incompetence, indifference, and neglect in the school’s animal laboratories. PETA is also calling on WashU’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee to suspend all animal experiments until a thorough audit of the school’s animal-experimentation program can be carried out and anyone responsible for violations is held accountable.

The federal reports were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request and come just one week after PETA revealed that a WashU whistleblower had shared shocking allegations regarding biosafety violations and cruelty in the laboratories. The new records reveal that WashU violated federal animal-welfare guidelines and regulations 24 separate times during the period from February 10, 2017, to April 10, 2018. Experimenters reportedly failed to give adequate analgesia to animals used in painful experimental surgeries, including rats whose abdomens’ were cut and whose intestines were punctured. Mice who were stitched together along the length of their bodies also didn’t receive adequate pain relief. In addition, unapproved personnel reportedly performed invasive and complicated surgeries on animals, and several mice died from dehydration when an employee placed the wrong type of water bottle in the cage they were in.

“WashU’s scofflaw behavior and shoddy methods not only threaten the welfare of animals imprisoned in the school’s laboratories but also undermine the already-suspect data produced there,” says PETA Research Associate Jeremy Beckham, MPH. “PETA is calling on the university to suspend its horrendously cruel animal experiments until an audit can be carried out to determine why problems keep recurring and who needs to be held accountable.”

PETA (whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”) notes that the reports corroborate many of the allegations made by the whistleblower, who also reported that employees in WashU’s Biosafety Level 2 and 3 laboratories—where drug-resistant tuberculosis, norovirus, West Nile virus, H1N1 influenza, and chikungunya are handled—frequently violate safety protocols and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for biocontainment.

PETA’s letters and complaints are available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA.org or click here.

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“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