The United States Department of Agriculture fined the University of Wisconsin $35,286 in citations after a four year investigation into the treatment of animal test subjects in campus labs.
UW has accepted the settlement agreement, thus closing the investigation, a statement from UW said. The news comes after months of outcry from animal rights activists about the treatment of test subjects in campus labs.
The university received seven citations, two of which directly affected animal welfare, the statement said. These included a thermal injury to a cat, where the animal fully recovered, but UW was cited with failure to handle an animal as carefully as possible. UW was also cited for failure to conduct adequate daily observations to assess animal health and well-being in the case of a gerbil that had not undergone any experimental procedure but was “obviously ill,” according to the statement.
The other violations included expired or improperly labeled medications, housing and facilities conditions and maintenance, inadequate personnel training and poor communication of animal health problems to veterinarians in timely and accurate manner.
The USDA investigation began in 2010 and reviewed alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act from 2007 to 2013, according to the statement.
The university noted the fine was “relatively small,” citing the corrective actions taken by researchers along with the small number of animal welfare citations in comparison to UW’s stature as a one of the country’s largest research universities.
The USDA fine was “one of the largest fines ever assessed against an animal laboratory,” Justin Goodman, director of laboratory investigations department at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a statement.
Goodman called upon the National Institute of Health to cut funding for all UW projects that were cited in the investigation and to reevaluate its eligibility for future funding.