Friday, October 19, 2007

More Proof Emerges of Animal Cruelty at University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center

The charges include “…inadequate anesthesia, unnecessarily painful procedures and substandard basic care, including a lack of food and water.”

Article:

PETA, whistle-blower file animal-cruelty complaint against CU-Denver lab

http://dailycamera.com/news/2007/oct/18/peta-whistle-blower-file-animal-cruelty-against/
Associated Press

Thursday, October 18, 2007

DENVER — A whistle-blower and an animal-rights group have accused a University of Colorado research lab of mistreating test animals, including inadequate anesthesia, unnecessarily painful procedures and substandard basic care, including a lack of food and water.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed two complaints Tuesday with the federal government using documents, photos and video footage from Karl Mann, a former animal care technician at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center.
They allege numerous violations of the federal law and guidelines that Mann said he witnessed between August 2005 and March 2007.

University spokesman Steve Krizman said animals used for research and education aren't mistreated.

"In order to get good research, you need to have well-cared-for animals," Krizman said. "We have a state-of-the-art facility. We have employees specially trained to care for the animals."

He said the university's standards are higher than what is required and complaints are investigated and corrections are made when necessary.

But Mann, who left the lab in March after five years on the staff, said he contacted PETA last fall after his complaints to supervisors didn't change anything. He said he used hidden cameras to photograph and videotape lab conditions, animals being prepped for surgery and having blood drained.

"It really sort of surprised me that no one was willing to do anything about it within the lab," said Mann, 42, who previously worked at the Denver Zoo.

The complaints were filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act, and the National Institutes of Health Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.

USDA spokesman Jim Rogers said he hadn't seen Mann's allegations. He said the agency looks into all complaints from private citizens or groups.

"We certainly take them seriously," Rogers said.

NIH spokesman Joe Balintfy said the agency investigates all allegations but doesn't discuss specific complaints or ongoing investigations.

PETA's complaint alleges the university and an oversight committee violated federal law and NIH's guidelines by giving inadequate veterinary care, failing to respond to Mann's complaints, failing to require procedures to minimize pain and distress and failing to ensure that workers were properly qualified and trained.

Among PETA's allegations:

In August 2005, a veterinarian did not arrive at the lab until four hours after Mann reported a bonnet macaque monkey had a prolapsed colon, and the veterinarian didn't euthanize the monkey until more than an hour after that.

Earlier this year, Mann reported that cats being prepped for back surgery didn't appear to be fully anesthetized, and that the anesthetic used was inadequate. Video footage submitted to the federal agencies shows a cat lying on its side and making running motions. PETA added that using cats to study lower back injuries in humans isn't necessary because research is being done on humans.

Krizman said the school's Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, which includes outside veterinarians, investigated a complaint from PETA in July about back-injury research on cats. The committee determined that proper anesthesia was used and the running motions videotaped were a reflex that didn't occur during surgery.

Mice and rats, the majority of the lab animals, were kept in crowded cages, some of which were dirty. Some rodents drowned when their cages were flooded by malfunctioning water bottles.

Rodents sometimes went without food and water, and seven rats died in February when their cage wasn't correctly connected to the ventilation system.

Kathy Guillermo, PETA's research director, acknowledged that her organization opposes research on animals. She said even if people believe the research is worthwhile, the way it's being done raises questions about its effectiveness.

"There are laws and guidelines in place to protect these beings who have essentially no rights other than those written in the law," Guillermo said.

Dr. John J. Pippin, a Dallas cardiologist who works full-time for a group that advocates alternatives to animal research, said animal experimentation is "inhumane and cruel" despite the best intentions of researchers.

"The PR departments of schools and other facilities that do this research have a standard response to all such complaints: They take animal welfare issues very seriously, they follow the law and so on," Pippin said. "Any time you take a close look, that's not the case."

Pippin works for the Washington-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The group isn't participating in the complaint against the CU lab.

Pippin said he used to conduct research on dogs but stopped about 20 years ago after deciding it wasn't ethical or scientifically sound. He said breakthroughs in medicine and science typically happen after research with humans because most of the results in animals don't transfer.

"I do believe that most people on the research side of things believe in what they're doing," Pippin said. "I also think, by and large, that looking at the big picture, they have tunnel vision."

The CU Health Sciences Center, which recently moved from Denver to a new campus in Aurora, has come under fire in the past for its treatment of monkeys and use of live dogs in physiology labs.

The monkeys were transferred last year to Wake Forest University in North Carolina, and the school quit using live dogs in 2003 because of budget cuts.

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