Since Lady Freethinker’s last animal research report, three research facilities have been officially warned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violating the minimum welfare requirements mandated by the federal Animal Welfare Act.

This round up of violators from March 20 through May 10 includes researchers who allowed animals suffering so severely that they had been slated for humane “euthanasia” to languish for up to an hour, a research facility whose unauthorized procedures on pigs led to the innocent animals’ suffering and death, and rabbits given chronic lung injuries and then inadequate care, according to inspection reports. 

An “Official Warning” means that the facilities are subject to civil penalties, criminal prosecution, or other sanctions for any future violations. Some of the facilities in this report also have a record of “teachable moments,” which are a USDA classification that refers to noncompliances that need to be addressed or that could become violations.

Lady Freethinker reached out to each company multiple times and has included their response if we heard back. We’ll update this story if additional responses become available.

Even though modern-day science has yielded superior – and safer – human biology-based alternatives, animal testing continues due to an outdated mandate established by the federal government in 1938. It’s time for that law to change.

We hope that this series will help open our readers’ eyes to the brutal reality — and repercussions — of animal testing. 

OLD DOMINION UNIVERSITY

Old Dominion University, located in Norfolk, Va., received an official warning from the USDA  on March 25, 2022, for inadequate veterinary care and oversight by its animal care committee regarding the facility’s rabbits.

Documents reviewed by Lady Freethinker detail that the university’s researchers injected irritants into the tracheas of rabbits, via catheter tubes, to produce chronic lung injuries – reportedly so that they could test the effectiveness of various drugs on lung problems.

While the approved protocol outlined proper care for the rabbits following this horrific procedure, federal inspectors documented 10 rabbits who lacked documentation of that proper post-operative care, three rabbits who didn’t receive antibiotics consistently, and eight rabbits who had no record of their vital signs recorded during the protocol.

The surgical sites also hadn’t been prepared according to protocol, according to the USDA report, with the inspector reporting that “Adequate training and review of personnel qualifications is not being performed at a frequency sufficient to ensure proper care of animals.” 

A federal inspector also relayed that a male rabbit observed so seriously ill  – with an exhibited head tilt, a blue color to his membranes, and active trouble breathing –  that his euthanasia was ordered at 8:40 a.m. to take place within the hour but instead was left to suffer until 9:48 a.m., when researchers returned with euthanasia drugs they had gone to retrieve only to find the rabbit had died. 

The inspection reports also document the unexpected deaths of four rabbits in September 2021, incomplete records and inadequate medical care for 10 new Zealand white rabbits, and three rabbits in June 2021 who were missing “large portions” of their medical records, according to the report.

Old Dominion’s Office of Research told Lady Freethinker via email that they self-reported the “isolated incident”, underwent a USDA site inspection, cooperated fully and took immediate action to address the identified issues.

“The USDA conducted a re-inspection on Jan. 25 and found no noncompliant items,” the Office wrote. “On March 11, the University received reaccreditation from AAALAC International Council on Accreditation. As part of this process, the University made AAALAC aware of this incident and they were satisfied with all actions taken. Furthermore, AAALAC commended the University for ‘providing and maintaining an excellent program of laboratory animal care and use’ and affirmed the program remains fully accredited.”

The university had no noncompliance noted at its most recent inspection on January 25 but has been cited for violations or teachable moments at three of its nine most recent inspections – or 33 percent – with a total of four violations and two “teachable moments” since 2014.  Other violations include missing information on an annual report from Fiscal Year 2013.

The total number of animals at the research facility was not included on the facility’s most recent USDA report, although past reports indicate dozens of guinea pigs and rabbits on site.

TRANSLATIONAL TESTING AND TRAINING LABORATORIES

Translational Testing and Training Laboratories, also known as T3 Labs, is a business unit of the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) and an affiliate of Georgia Tech, whose business profile indicates they are in the medical equipment manufacturing industry.

The facility received an official warning from the USDA on April 7, 2022, stemming from a Feb 17 inspection related to inadequate review by the facility’s animal care use committee.

That inspection report documents the death of a Yorkshire pig in August 2021 and cites a T3 Lab internal investigation, which concluded the pig likely had a severe allergic reaction to a non-approved substance the researchers had administered and which likely led to death.

The lab has been cited for noncompliance at five of 15 USDA inspections – or 33 percent – since June 2014, with a total of seven violations and two “teachable moments” documented. 

Those included citations in July 2017 when federal inspectors once again documented an unapproved procedure, in which a researcher cut unauthorized amounts of tissue out of a living pig who had not yet been euthanized and missing documentation of daily observations.  Violations from 2016 and 2015 involved incomplete searches to see if alternatives to painful procedures on animals existed, deficiencies in the lab’s semi-annual reports, pigs in need of hoof trimming, and improper food storage.

The research facility had 24 animals on-site at its latest USDA inspection, including 15 pigs, four sheep, and five dogs.

UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA

The University of Arizona received an official warning from the USDA on April 7, 2022, regarding personnel who improperly handled animals.

The corresponding inspection report notes that in September 2021, three 6-month-old sheep died after an animal care manager administered a concentrated – rather than diluted – dose of levamisole, used to treat parasitic worm infections. The sheep were then wracked with muscle tremors, and staff called a vet, but the sheep died within the hour.

A female Mexican free-tailed bat also was crushed and euthanized after escaping from a staff member during a hand feeding in October 2021, with the inspection report noting she was euthanized after the staff member moved a large shelving unit on wheels while looking for her and seriously injured her in the process. Staff were retrained following the incident, according to the inspection report.

The University of Arizona told Lady Freethinker that the university took corrective action regarding the de-wormer.

“Immediately upon learning of this error, the university followed its required timely procedures and filed a report with the USDA,” the university said via email. “The USDA inspected the facilities and interviewed staff and found no further concerns. The staff involved were provided additional training to help prevent this from happening again.”

The research lab also has been cited in the past, with violations noted at two of the nine most recent inspections – or 22 percent – involving a total three violations.

The other violation involved a female pig who underwent an approved protocol that “left her in a state warranting euthanasia,” according to a 2016 USDA inspection report. Although researchers classified her suffering as severe enough to warrant a mercy killing at 4:17 p.m., the pig suffered for 28 minutes while staff went to retrieve the approved euthanasia drug.

The facility had 194 animals on-site at the time of its last USDA inspection, including 66 sheep, 38 rabbits, 36 horses, 21 Brazilian free-tailed bats, 10 big brown bats, 12 rhesus macaques, seven cattle, three pigs, and one donkey.

3 STEPS TO TAKE MEANINGFUL ACTION

1. Sign our petitions. If you haven’t already, sign Lady Freethinker’s petition supporting the FDA Modernization Act, which would end FDA requirements established in 1938 to test on animals by validating safer, human-biology-based methods;  our petition demanding that Congress nix a proposed $30 million increase to the National Institutes of Health to breed more monkeys for lab use; and our petition urging the European Commission to sign off on a demand from the European Parliament to ban animal testing as soon as possible.

2. Politely ask research labs conducting cruel experiments on animals to shift their efforts to human biology-based methods. You can say something along the lines of, “I was disturbed to hear that your research facility was officially warned for reportedly violating the minimum care standards for animals outlined in the Animal Welfare Act. Animals are not accurate stand-ins for humans, and a growing number of studies show that more humane alternatives are also safer, more cost-effective, and more reliable. Please stop the cruel experiments on animals and shift your researchers’ focus instead to using ethical, human biology-based alternatives.” To reach the research facilities in this report by phone or email:

  • Old Dominion University: By phone at 1-800-968-2638 (toll-free) or online at [email protected]
  • T3 Labs: By phone at 404-894-5227, or online at https://gcmiatl.com/gcmi-contact/
  • University of Arizona: By phone at 520-621-2211 or online at https://www.arizona.edu/website-feedback

3. Learn more. You can learn more about the ways animals suffer in laboratories by reading our other work on violations. Also currently in this series:

  • Animal Research Report: Jan. 1 – March 20, 2022: Research facilities cited include the Mayo Clinic-Rochester, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, Legacy Health-Portland, Lampire Biological Laboratories, Blue Ridge Kennel, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Tier One Quality Solutions.
rabbit in testing facility