Laboratory Animals

Agony of Animals at Amgen

Inadequately anesthetized mice were sliced open and had their organs cut out by a research assistant at a California-based laboratory, according to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection report. The approved research protocol, which was ignored, stated that the mice would be dead when their organs were "harvested." Three of the institution's veterinarians and a veterinary technician attempted, but failed to stop the employee from continuing with the torturous procedure. The assistant had been cited twice before for causing pain and distress in mice and rats so she should not have been experimenting on animals at all.

This egregious situation occurred at Amgen, Inc., which according to its website, "is the world's largest independent biotechnology company." USDA has cited Amgen with failing to comply with the modest legal requirements for veterinary care, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) responsibilities, personnel and training. Despite these serious problems, Amgen is accredited by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC), International.

Mice are not currently being protected under the Animal Welfare Act. Though the law mandates protection for all warm-blooded animals, the regulations for enforcement of the law specifically exclude mice, rats and birds. We know about this incident only because an alert USDA veterinary inspector realized that Amgen's failure to protect rodents suggested the facility would not adequately protect the other warm-blooded animals being experimented on at the facility and noted it on her inspection report.

Research industry groups are rallying scientific organizations in an effort to prevent the legal protection of mice, rats and birds used for experimentation. They argue that there is no need for protection of these vulnerable animals. This is nonsense.

"...it seemed obvious that the veterinarian, and perhaps other IACUC members, feared reprisal for discussing the details of the incident with us....Employees who fear reprisal will not report deficiencies they discover, and such deficiencies will then go uncorrected."

-USDA Veterinary Inspector, Jan. 13, 2000

 


Caged Laboratory Animals Drown by the Tens of Thousands

 

Flooding in Houston, Texas on June 9 and 10 caused the death by drowning of more than 35,000 animals used for experimentation at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Medical School. The animals, which included dogs, primates, rabbits, mice and rats, were trapped in their cages. The National Institutes of Health has said it will work to "accommodate the setbacks" in the federally funded research (a bonanza for animal dealers), but has not announced any practical plans to prevent a repetition of this tragedy. One can only imagine the terror of the animals confined in cages in basement laboratories throughout the vast medical complexes as they listened to the frenzied struggle of their fellows drowning in the lower tiers of cages as the water inexorably rose.