Letters to the Editor
Re: “Animal testing at University remains controversial,” April 23
Thank you for your article on concerns over the use of animals in experiments.
Contrary to University assurances that checks and balances in the system ensure ethical treatment of animals, numerous federal reports indicate that facilities routinely violate even the minimal protections of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), the only federal law that provides protection for animals in laboratories.
According to multiple federal audits, even this law, which deals mainly with caging and husbandry issues, is not being adequately enforced, and it entirely excludes rats, mice and birds.
A scathing 2005 audit report published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General shows that Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs) – oversight committees that are charged with approving proposed experiments and ensuring that laws and regulations are followed – are utterly 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 – nearly one-third – of oversight committees are failing to ensure that experimenters have looked for alternatives to painful procedures on animals, as they’re required to do.
The failure of IACUCs to ensure that the AWA is enforced results in immense suffering for animals used in sometimes painful, often stressful and ultimately lethal experiments.
Alka Chandna, Ph.D.
Alka Chandna, Ph.D. is a laboratory oversight specialist in the Laboratory Investigations Department of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).