USDA Faces Challenge Over Secret Records From Walter Reed Army Institute

PETA-Led Coalition Demands That Agency Release Full Annual Reports From Government Laboratory That Subjected Animals to Unmitigated Pain

For Immediate Release:
July 16, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382


This morning, a PETA-led coalition sent a request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) demanding that the agency disclose the full annual reports submitted by the Silver Spring–based Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and other U.S. laboratories—including their justifications for denying animals relief from pain and distress.

After the coalition filed a lawsuit challenging the USDA’s removal of thousands of federal Animal Welfare Act–related records from its website, the agency partially disclosed certain records from 2015 to 2017—but these are missing the legally required and critically important explanation pages. During these years, Walter Reed denied pain relief to more than 800 hamsters, and in previous years, the facility reported infecting hundreds of guinea pigs with a live Shigella bacterium, leaving the animals to suffer from painful infections of the eye or colon.

“The USDA is concealing the reasons why laboratories like Walter Reed subjected tens of thousands of animals to unmitigated pain and distress—from infecting them with painful bacteria to killing them horribly in poisoning toxicity tests,” says PETA Foundation Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “This cover-up is preventing the public from monitoring whether the USDA is doing its duty to ensure animals’ well-being, and PETA is demanding the full and immediate release of these reports.”

The members of the coalition behind this request are PETA, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Rescue + Freedom Project (formerly the Beagle Freedom Project), and Winders, in her capacity as a legal scholar.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—has been campaigning against the USDA’s lack of transparency by publishing many of the full documents scrubbed on the agency’s website, filing four lawsuits in total against it over the blackout, and more. In addition, the USDA’s own Office of the Inspector General has found that USDA inspectors and research facilities “are not always adequately monitoring experimental procedures on animals,” resulting in “reduced assurance that … animals are always receiving basic humane care and treatment.”

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