USDA Inspection of NC Research Lab Exposed by PETA

After PETA released a video showing snippets from a 9 month undercover investigation done at a NC research lab, the USDA conducted an inspection.  The September 14 report details research animals in poor condition.  From the report:

…large number of dogs…problems such as periodontal disease, pododermatitis, otitis externa and conjunctivitis.

…receded [gums]… exposed roots… loosened teeth…

…feet were moist… [reddened skin]… dark staining of the fur… swelling/interdigital cysts… lick granulomas

The inspectors found both acute and chronic ear infections.  One dog had such severe swelling on her muzzle and the right side of her face that her right eyelids were jammed shut.  Another dog had crusted over lacerations on the ears, apparently caused by another dog several days prior to the inspection.  The staff said they knew nothing about the bite wounds.  In addition to the untreated conditions of the animals, the inspectors noted a number of structural deficiencies in the facility (such as rust and drainage problems) that had been noted in a 2009 inspection report but were never corrected.

The president of the lab, Helen Sonenshine,  said the lab is still in business but would not say whether they will resume animal testing in future.  She seems to have changed her tune considerably since the video’s release:

In an interview last month with The Associated Press, Helen Sonenshine said she was disgusted and appalled by the PETA video.

But in an e-mail exchange this week with The Virginian-Pilot, she vigorously defended the lab’s treatment of its animals and called PETA’s charges “a prefabricated smear campaign.”

I guess the USDA is in on it too, judging from their inspection report.

All of the allegations are false, Helen Sonenshine said in an e-mail this week. She said the Department of Agriculture inspection last month found no evidence of abuse or neglect.

Wait, what?

If you opt to read the report (at the link), let me know if you agree with Mrs. Sonenshine that no evidence of neglect was indicated.  Keep in mind that these animals were not someone’s beloved couch potatoes that maybe the health problems went unnoticed because the owner was elderly or whatever.  These were research facility animals, cared for by paid staff and attended to by veterinary researchers.

5 thoughts on “USDA Inspection of NC Research Lab Exposed by PETA

  1. Well, I just read the report. It’s actually a few reports, from 2008 to 2010, which appear to implicitly document a deterioration of conditions. And absolutely: neglect, both of the animals and physical facility. Piss-poor sloppy handiwork.

    Aside from the issues of animal cruelty, which seem to me to be pretty damn plain in the report, there’s this: a facility in this condition, with suffering sick animals, with such sloppy, neglectful, *unobservant* workers, is going to produce crappy results. *Useless* results, for anything other than producing forms in triplicate.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out Eucritta – just the first four pages are dated September 14, 2010. If you choose to read past that, check the dates in the upper right to see when those inspections were conducted.

  2. It really bothers me how animals are used for research, and it’s even worse how they must live their lives in these kinds of conditions. Dogs are intelligent, social animals that thrive off of companionship and love. Thanks for bringing up this difficult topic – people like to forget about research animals.

    1. On the one hand, we want flea and tick products to use on our pets that are known to be safe via actual testing on live dogs and cats. On the other hand, we don’t like the idea of live dogs and cats being used in research testing. It’s a complicated issue.

      For example, if my puppy chews up a package of Frontline and appears to have eaten at least some of the pesticide, I’d like to be able to call the manufacturer and get a quick, reliable answer to what I need to do. I’d like to hear something like “Our research shows that for a dog of that weight, ingesting up to X ml of Frontline will cause vomiting but no harmful long term effects” or perhaps “Our research shows this is a life threatening emergency and you should take your dog to the vet immediately”. What I would NOT want to hear: “We have no idea as we’ve never tested the product. Let us know if your puppy has convulsions resulting in death or if he survives with long term liver dysfunction or whatever happens. kthxbai.”

      On the other hand, I hate the idea that the manufacturer is putting Frontline down puppies’ throats to monitor the effects. As in all cases of animal research, there are sometimes non-animal methods that can achieve the desired results (computer modeling for example) but other times there are no viable alternatives. Without the live animal testing, consumers’ pets become the “test subjects” by default.

      1. yeah it’s a catch 22.

        personally i don’t take a stand against animal testing for medical reasons.

        But i am against cosmetic testing

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