Animal abuse watchdog calls for stricter fines after Penn animal death

University of Pennsylvania lab animal protest
Members of animal rights group Animal ACTivists of Philly in April rallied outside the University of Pennsylvania, a school they’re are calling “a horror show for animals with a long history of abuses” in its labs.
Credit: Rikard Larma/Metro

An animal abuse watchdog group is calling on the inspector general to investigate the United States Department of Agriculture because they say the group failed to issue more strict penalties to the University of Pennsylvania after a laboratory animal died earlier this year.

Michael Budkie, co-founder of Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), said not only should the university receive a fine because this is the second USDA warning in two years, but a closer look into the college’s labs should be taken.

“If this lab cannot even follow basic regulations, why should we believe they are capable of doing science?” Budkie asked.

According to a USDA inspection report from May 13, it was reported that in 2012, a piglet died because it was incorrectly intubated and a requirement of a present certified trainer was neglected.

“They are not following their own rules,” Budkie said. “This is clearly a very serious situation.”

Budkie also mentioned another USDA report on Penn from 2011 that said a dead puppy was found under a floor grate. The facility was instructed to modify its floor grates.

On Tuesday, Budkie issued a letter to the inspector general to look into the regional USDA office’s inspection procedures.

“We’re aware they are already doing an audit of this part of the USDA,” he said. “That’s why we’re hopeful something like this will be included.”

In an emailed statement from Penn, it said, “SAEN is well within its rights to make these requests” however they stress it’s SAEN’s goal “to advance its agenda of eliminating all biomedical research using animals.”

In regard to the piglet death, the statement said, “Penn has a highly effective internal reporting mechanism and every time an unfortunate mistake occurs, we learn from that, improve the program and improve training to prevent future incidents, as we did in this regrettable incident.”

A spokeswoman for the USDA said Penn is not currently under investigation.


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