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COLUMBIA –The University of Missouri is once again under fire for a controversial study it conducted in 2016 involving dogs.

The Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research & Experiments (CAARE) said the university failed to comply with the Animal Welfare Act. It also filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

The Animal Welfare Act requires “minimum standards of care and treatment be provided for certain animals bred for commercial sale, used in research, transported commercially, or exhibited to the public.”

CAARE said MU failed to follow these directives during a study where researchers studied eye injuries in dogs. They blinded the six beagles, then eventually euthanized 

The purpose of the research was “to develop painless or non-invasive treatments for corneal injuries to the eyes of people and dogs, such as search and rescue dogs and other service animals.”

This isn't the first time the research project has been criticized.

The Beagle Freedom Project first caught wind of the research being conducted by the university last year.

The university stated all studies were “performed under the accordance with the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology” and “were approved by the MU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.”

Barbara Stagno, the president of CAARE, said they focused on the possible alternatives to the study.

“We believe there’s many cases of research happening that can be replaced,” she said. “When I read these experiments they struck me as very replaceable by a number of technologies that have been available for 20 years.”

Some of these alternatives include clinical studies, in vitro research and ex vivo organ cultures.

After obtaining copies of the database used for the experiment, Stagno said the university was lacking in non-animal methods.

Christian Basi, spokesperson for MU, said their researchers go through every possibility before using animals for experiments.

“Our researchers investigate any and all possible ways to complete the research without doing animal research,” he said. “And so yes, we have hundreds of studies across campus that are using other methods for their studies.”

Without these studies, Basi said many procedures and treatments for injuries would not have been created.

Basi also said their projects are routinely inspected.

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