USDA Faces Challenge Over Secret Records of Animal Suffering

PETA-Led Coalition Demands That Agency Release Full Annual Reports From Charles River Laboratories, UMass Medical School, and Others

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 Charles River Laboratories, Inc. (CRL); the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School; 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 that time, UMass Medical School reported using a total of 1,930 animals in experiments that involved unrelieved, prolonged pain or distress. In 2015 and 2016, CRL—the world’s largest breeder of animals for use in experimentation—reported that dozens of animals were subjected to unmitigated pain or distress in its lab. Countless animals have died on CRL’s watch, including three mini pigs who sustained leg injuries in 2017 and had to be euthanized; 32 monkeys who were baked alive when a thermostat malfunctioned; and a monkey who was scalded to death when her cage was run through a high-temperature cage washer while she was still locked inside.

“The USDA is shielding laboratories like CRL and UMass Medical School from scrutiny over gruesome experiments, such as denying animals food and killing them horribly in poisoning toxicity tests,” says PETA Foundation 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 from the USDA’s website, filing four lawsuits in total against the agency over the blackout, and more.

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