USDA cites Harvard med school primate center.
Byline: Elaine Thompson
SOUTHBORO - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited Harvard Medical School's Primate Research Center with five non-compliances of the federal animal welfare act. One of the citations involves the death of a research monkey.
David Sacks, a USDA spokesman, yesterday confirmed the citations, but said they would not be considered violations unless an investigation deemed that. He said there has been no action taken at this point and he does not know if an investigation will result from the citations.
He said the department's animal and plant health inspection services performs unannounced inspections of all zoos, circuses and facilities that use warm-blooded animals for medical research to make sure they are in compliance with the federal act's care standards.
Noncompliant items are categorized in three different groups: direct impact on the welfare of an animal, which is the most serious; non-direct impact on animals; and repeat, something cited on a previous inspection report.
One citation involves the death of one of the facility's 2,098 monkeys in October. A research staff person caught it with a hand-held net after it escaped from its enclosure while the staff was trying to take it to another room for a short procedure. After the procedure was completed, the animal died.
According to a Dec. 12 inspection report, the facility immediately took appropriate steps after the incident. The research staff member was provided additional instruction and retraining. Additional procedures as well as modifications to the research protocol were made.
Three citations dealt with three primary enclosures, including the size being too small. The fifth citation involved patchy hair loss or unusual behaviors of four monkeys, which can be signs of an animal being in psychological distress. The report said the facility corrected all of the citations.
Mr. Sacks, the USDA spokesman, said the agency takes all non-compliances seriously.
"Is five a pretty large number of non-compliances? It is. But are they reaching a level of egregious mishandling or systemic problems in terms of inhumane treatment of animals? I don't see that here," he said.
Michael Budkie, cofounder and executive director of Stop Animal Exploitation Now, said a non-compliance of the animal welfare act should be considered a violation. He said the facility has been cited for deaths of primates. One of the latest five non-compliances regarding the inadequate size of an enclosure was a repeat citation.
"I believe that the primate research center has demonstrated an ongoing pattern of negligence. The only meaningful regulatory step the USDA can issue is a fine," he said.
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|Title Annotation:||LOCAL NEWS|
|Publication:||Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)|
|Date:||Jan 11, 2012|
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