Connor Rosen claims that federal and state laws “place strict controls on animal research” at Yale (Oct. 22, 2017). However, Connecticut’s cruelty-to-animals statute completely exempts the use of animals in laboratories in its prohibitions on maiming, mutilating, torturing, wounding or killing animals. The Animal Welfare Act is the only federal law that stipulates legally enforceable welfare standards for animals in laboratories, but multiple federal audits report that this law, which deals mainly with caging and husbandry issues, is not being adequately enforced.
Scathing Office of the Inspector General audit reports in 2005 and again in 2014 report that institutional oversight committees that are charged with evaluating proposed experiments and ensuring that regulations and guidelines are followed are failing to carry out their responsibilities. As a result, sick animals go without veterinary care, animals used in invasive surgeries do not receive sufficient pain relief and extremely sick animals are denied humane euthanasia. An astounding 29 percent of oversight committees are failing to ensure that experimenters have even looked for alternatives to painful procedures on animals, as they’re required to do.
The situation at Yale appears to be particularly harrowing. Government reports obtained by PETA in response to a Freedom of Information Act request documented that from Jan. 1, 2015, to April 1, 2017, Yale violated minimal animal welfare guidelines in its use of mice and rats no fewer than 39 times. Mice died of starvation and dehydration. Mice and rats used in painful experiments were denied pain relief. Experimenters used expired anesthesia and deviated from approved protocols. When a cage was placed in a rack backward, the cage became flooded and two of the mice drowned. Experimenters amputated the toes of one-month-old mice but failed to provide any pain relief to the animals.
Platitudes of the sort found in Rosen’s op-ed make for nice window dressing, but they don’t protect animals who suffer egregiously in cruel and deadly experiments.
Alka Chandna is the Chief of Laboratory Case Management in the laboratory investigations department for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Contact him at AlkaC@peta.org.