Purdue University has long prided itself as one of the premiere academic institutions for research in a variety of fields. Now, a group called Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! has put the University under fire for the mistreatment of animal subjects.
According to a press release from the organization, both Purdue University and Indiana University were found to have violated federal law, and the organization called for heavy fines against both facilities. Should investigators find traction in Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!’s complaints, both institutions could be fined up to $10,000 per violation.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! states, “Purdue was negligent in the deaths of eight chinchillas, who died of septicemia, and two calves were killed after a dog attack. Both incidents violated the federal Animal Welfare Act.”
These violations were in regard to proper enclosures for animal subjects in the case of the calves and in proper veterinary care in the research on the chinchillas, said Michael Budkie, executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!.
Howard Zelaznik said this is the first time in his two-and-a-half year career as the associate vice president for research that a formal complaint has ever been issued against animal testing and research at Purdue.
Zelaznik addressed the cases, saying when two chinchillas died after being put under anesthesia, the researcher understood an error had been made and immediately suspended the work. The researcher then contacted veterinarians on campus to alleviate the problem. During this information-gathering portion, six additional chinchillas died.
“They figured out it had to do with the nature of the anesthesia and they issued corrections,” Zelaznik said. “The chinchillas have survived this procedure (since that time), as they should.”
The deaths were reported to governmental agencies back in January, and the team was approved to continue its research after remediation of the experiment.
Fencing became the topic of complaint when stray dogs attacked a group of calves at Purdue University’s Dairy Unit on Jan. 24. One calf was killed in the attack and another was euthanized for its injuries. The Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare worked with the University to improve the fencing and avoid accidents such as this in the future.
The University currently has 855 active and approved experiments involving animal testing and research, but Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! is arguing that is 855 too many.
“If they are unable to do the basic animal care requirements of the Animal Welfare Act, why should we believe they can do scientific research?” Budkie said.
Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!’s website advertises the group as, “the best kept secret within the animal rights movement,” and yet in 2014, the organization was involved with the prosecution of two dozen laboratories across the United States, even halting the research on animal subjects completely in a lab in Cincinnati.
Zelaznik says the group holds a set of philosophical differences, and Budkie agrees, saying the country is in a time where a “large percentage of the population can’t afford healthcare,” and according to Budkie’s beliefs, federal funding should be aiding Americans who need proper medical attention instead of funding research.
“We have an animal care program that has the utmost respect for the rights and welfare and the lives of the animals, and we follow the requirements to their letter and beyond,” Zelaznik said. “One of the major goals of an institution such as Purdue is to produce new knowledge, and we do that via research. The University is committed to that.”