Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Conditions so Appalling for Laboratory Animals at the University of Washington that Drastic Changes Forced

What’s most telling about this story is it’s exposure of what the conditions are actually like in a federally-funded animal testing facility. Even though the University of Washington is one of the largest universities in the world, they still don’t provide minimum or adequate care for any of the animals. So just imagine what goes on at other less funded facilities. Must be complete hell.

And even more telling is that usually the government doesn’t care at all about conditions for animals in animal testing laboratories. For some reason they finally investigated and disciplined a facility.

Here’s what was uncovered due to the investigation:

“The university houses about 100,000 mice and rats, 700 primates and lesser numbers of dogs, cats, fish and other creatures.

In monkey laboratories, inspectors found leaking steam heat from a cage-washing device, doors too small for some of the animals to use inside the cages, severe diarrhea outbreaks and a lack of alarms for heating or cooling equipment failure.

In other labs, according to the letter, faulty ventilation resulted in "intense" odor and dust levels and there were improperly caged rodents, peeling paint, filthy cages and problems with heat and air conditioning.”


Article:



University of Washington told to fix research animal buildings

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/
6420AP_WA_Animal_Research.html

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SEATTLE -- The University of Washington must spend more than $20 million on ventilation, sanitation, lighting and other aspects of research animal housing or risk the loss of millions of dollars in grants, school officials say.

The problems were reported in a nine-page letter from the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care.

"Serious deficiencies that had the potential to negatively impact the health, well-being and safety of animals and humans were not being identified," association officials wrote.

The university houses about 100,000 mice and rats, 700 primates and lesser numbers of dogs, cats, fish and other creatures.

In monkey laboratories, inspectors found leaking steam heat from a cage-washing device, doors too small for some of the animals to use inside the cages, severe diarrhea outbreaks and a lack of alarms for heating or cooling equipment failure.

In other labs, according to the letter, faulty ventilation resulted in "intense" odor and dust levels and there were improperly caged rodents, peeling paint, filthy cages and problems with heat and air conditioning.

The association also praised some operations, including veterinary care, medical records, training programs and overall occupational safety and health.

About one-fourth of the research facilities visited every three years by the association receive probationary or similar status, Executive Director Dr. John Miller said.

The inspection was made in June and the findings were sent to the university in November. School officials released the report Monday so they could discuss the problems before they were publicized by animal rights activists that obtained the report more recently.

Most of the problems stem from a lack of federal funding to renovate the 50- to 60-year-old wings of the Health Sciences complex, university officials said.

"We've hit a wall and we've got to fix the wall," said John A. Coulter, executive director for the school's Health Sciences Administration.

Debra Durham, an investigator for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Seattle, said the university's program is plagued with longstanding, systemic problems.

"I get frustrated with the fact that they push it off as growing pains or shortage of money when animals' lives are on the line," Durham said. "If you don't have the infrastructure to take on a task, the responsible thing is not to do it."

A new building would be prohibitively expensive and more than $20 million is needed for relatively short-term fixes, school officials said.

H. Denny Liggitt, chair of the comparative medicine division, said federal grants matched by the school and state funds used to provide than $4 million a year for renovations, but the federal funding was halted for all institutions in recent years.

The university has until May 1 to show substantial progress or risk losing its accreditation. If accreditation is retained, the university faces further monitoring by the association. While the review is voluntary, full accreditation is considered essential for the school to remain competitive for millions of dollars in federal research grants.

Since the review, some monkeys have been moved to larger quarters and about 30,000 mice and rats were moved to the new William H. Foege Building that was opened in March with good ventilation, heating and air conditioning.

Alarms and temperature controls have been installed and personnel have been retrained.

Still, Coulter and other officials said many animals remain in a 60-year-old wing housing dozens of animals and a 50-year-old wing with some primate quarters, both with outmoded heating, ventilation and air conditioning ducts, deteriorating walls, floors and ceilings, and in many cases inadequate lighting.

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