Animal Welfare Act complaint filed against University of Missouri

9 months 4 weeks 18 hours ago May 25, 2016 May 25, 2016 Wednesday, May 25 2016 Wednesday, May 25, 2016 10:43:00 AM CDT in News
By: Amber Sipe, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri - Columbia is under fire by the group Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, or SAEN, for the death of a puppy and a pig and suggested illegal surgical procedures. 

SAEN filed an official complaint against the university on Friday, May 20, 2016. The complaint cites three incidents that it says are clear violations of the Animal Welfare Act, relating to faulty enclosures and improper animal handling.

SAEN's official complaint said it is seeking a federal investigation and the maximum fine allowable under the Animal Welfare Act, $10,000 per infraction, per animal.

According to a report dated March 7, 2016, two adult boars were housed in adjacent pens. During early morning hours, a veterinarian found the boars in one pen. Both pigs showed signs of fighting and one boar was dead.

According to another report dated June 3, 2015, three adult male dachshunds were in a run adjoined to a run of recently weaned puppies. During the night the transfer door was opened and one of the adults killed one of the puppies.

In a letter of response to the complaints, the university acknowledges the incidents and says the penning used for the boars is used throughout the facility, and there have been "no similar events in the 6 years this facility has been open."

In another letter of response, the facility manager writes that the transfer doors between runs were examined and the latching of the doors were replaced with latches that can only be opened by personnel standing within the run.

In a statment to KOMU 8 News, MU spokesperson Christian Basi said, “We immediately took corrective action and self-reported both events to the office of laboratory animal welfare which is the federal office overseeing animal laboratory care. They responded and agreed with our assessment and along with the corrective actions that we had taken and told us no further action was necessary. The care and welfare of the animals that we use in research is very important to us as these animals are helping us make discoveries that can benefit animal and human health.”

SAEN also addressed a report dated May 28, 2015 stating a review of surgery sheets for two dogs revealed that the university had approval to perform surgeries on the dogs. The two procedures performed, however, were from two different approved protocols. 

The university responded with a letter stating they met with the principal investigator to reinforce proper protocol and research approval. They now consider that issue resolved.

According to the news release, SAEN monitors U.S. research laboratories for illegal activities and animal abuse and has successfully launched over 40 lab prosecutions by the USDA.

 [Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a statement from MU.]

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