Eric Sandgren, UW’s Research Animal Resource Center director, said the university has been transparent about the standing citation and posted the USDA report on the university website as soon as they learned that the appeal had failed.
He added that he did not think the citation should stand because appropriate steps have been taken and new guidelines were put in place after the accident.
“The bottom line is that, yes we made a mistake. That’s been posted on our website for two weeks, right after we got the citation from USDA. I don’t know why PETA all of a sudden is bringing it up,” Sandgren said.
UW received two citations during the investigation in December and successfully appealed one, he added.
PETA spokesperson Jeremy Beckham said the report was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and confirmed PETA’s allegations of “unrelieved, ongoing suffering of cats” in the UW lab.
Beckham also said the university has been falsely claiming to be free of all citations from USDA even though it had been notified in December and has been appealing the citations for two months.
“They knew that they were cited right when the inspector was on campus last December…and they just lost their appeal,” Beckham said. “For the past three months, the [University of Wisconsin] has been lying about what happened with the USDA investigation.”
The USDA investigation report from last December, which is on the university website, labels the investigation a “routine investigation.”
According to Sandgren, the report would have labeled it a “focused investigation” if it had been a response to PETA’s second set of complaints filed last year.
“The USDA did not separate us,” Sandgren said. “PETA is being very disingenuous. That was not a response to their allegations at least to the best of our knowledge.”
PETA filed two separate complaints against the university, one last April and another last December.
UW received no citation from USDA from the focused investigation in response to the first set of complaints.
“USDA did not find merit in any of the eight charges filed against us in the first PETA complaint,” Sandgren said. “[UW has] received no citation from their second set of complaints against the university.”
Sandgren said he has not seen the second sets of complaints filed by PETA, which is only available through filing an open information request.
PETA included five charges against the university in the second complaint alleging serious animal welfare violations, which are distinct from the previous allegations.
Sandgren said he has heard about the new complaints but cannot comment on the allegations before looking at the actual report.
“We filed [a request to obtain the report] in March but we haven’t got it yet, you can imagine how frustrated we are,” he said.
The USDA did not reply for comment as of press time.
In response to a recent guest column by director of UW-Madison’s
Research Animal Resources Center Eric Sandgren titled “Cat research,
after all the drama,” we, like actor James Cromwell, want to know the
whole truth about what goes on. Where do the cats come from and what
happens to them after being experimented on?
Whether this testing violates provisions of the Animal Welfare Act or
not, it is still likely unnecessary, as animal tests are rarely
relevant to humans and do not reliably predict outcomes in humans.
If these studies on cats, which seek to show how the brain receives
and makes sense of sound, benefit humans, doesn’t it make sense to do
these studies on humans?
It’s about time UW-Madison emerged from the past and joined modern
times to follow the lead of institutions such as Johns Hopkins, with
its Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing devoted entirely to
developing and promoting alternatives to this testing.
The center has worked with scientists since 1981 to find new methods
to replace the use of laboratory animals in experiments.
— Jerry Polder, Madison
Eric Sandgren says PETA’s claims were misleading. The pictures say it all.
PETA is taking on the University of Wisconsin-Madison over cat testing that they say is cruel. Tonight, Jane Velez-Mitchell moderates a heated debate between both sides.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals battled to release photos of a cat they say was named “Double Trouble” undergoing what they call useless and cruel experiments. And on the other side, the university defends their cat testing saying it’s necessary for the progression of science and that PETA’s claims are unsubstantiated and flawed. Watch as Jane moderates the heated debate.
Two days after an animal rights group criticized the University of Wisconsin-Madison for its treatment of research animals, the university held a previously scheduled forum on the ethics behind animal research.
Before the forum began, associate professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine Eric Sandgren introduced the forum and discussed the recent allegations made against UW-Madison by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Sandgren said after checking into all of the complaints waged by PETA, none of the accusations were correct.
The forum featured Dr. Lori Gruen, author of “Ethics and Animals: An Introduction” who presented on the different interpretations of ethics behind research, followed by a response from associate professor in the School of Medicine and Public Health Robert Streiffer.
During her presentation, Gruen discussed the need to decide if the research not only had potential medical benefits, but also if the benefits outweigh the costs to the animal.
“Whatever suffering is caused, whatever costs are approved, the benefits have to be greater,” Gruen said.
Gruen drew on previous animal research programs, mostly programs involving chimpanzees, to illustrate examples of the scientific benefits not outweighing the costs.
“Most animals have the same valuable features [as humans], and we disvalue those features in them and in ourselves if we go forward in that way,” Gruen said. “Sometimes even when you think what you are doing is going to be beneficial, it’s not going to be beneficial.”
Streiffer stressed the need for a calculation to be done before each research project, adding up every possible medical benefit against every possible cost to animals to ensure that only the projects with real medical benefit will go forward.
Vet student Cynthia Wise, who attended the forum, said the topic was important because it creates necessary conversations to raise awareness of the ethical decisions behind animal research.
“I feel as a veterinarian, it’s part of our profession to be informed [about animal research] and be able to educate and if I am not informed then I don’t think I can speak about it,” Wise said.