PETA to file complaints about U?s animal labs

By By , News Editor

By Michael McFall, News Editor

The U’s animal laboratory facilities, located on upper campus, have been a regular target of animal advocacy outrage8212;but after years of shrugging off angry protesters, the hatred could turn into an official federal matter for the lab.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans to file complaints with the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates animal research facilities, alleging that the lab animals in the living spaces of the animal lab’s facilities are routinely given care that doesn’t meet the required federal government’s standards.

“These allegations are untrue,” said Tom Parks, the U’s vice president of research. “We maintain the highest professional standards of care and comply with all federal and state regulations and the standards of the major non-governmental evaluation group.”

According to the complaints, the information providing the basis for the complaints was gathered by a PETA member employed in the U’s animal lab from February to October of this year.

However, the animal lab’s facilities have repeatedly passed rigorous inspections by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, an international regulatory agency that renewed the lab’s accreditation Oct. 30, 2008, and more recently by the USDA, which did not find any breaches of code in its August 2009 inspection, Parks said.

But not everyone thinks the accreditations amount to much.

“AAALAC accreditation is totally meaningless,” said Jeremy Beckham, a U alumnus and protester of the U’s animal lab. “It was set up by the research community to trick the public into thinking that it means something.”

Beckham cited several research institutions that were AAALAC-accreditated but violated federal standards of animal care. For example, the USDA issued a warning complaint to the Oregon Health Sciences University Primate Research Center in 2008 for several violations in its veterinary care of the animals, according to a March 2009 article in The Oregonian. AAALAC has accredited the center for more than 30 years.

ndercover PETA investigators usually obtain video evidence of what they find as basis for their complaints, Beckham said.

“The public should watch the video and should judge for themselves,” he said. “If they’re horrified, they should not be assured by AAALAC accreditation.”

PETA will officially announce its complaints at a press conference today at the downtown Marriott Hotel at 11 a.m.

PETA representatives could not be reached for comment.

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Trent Lowe contributed
to this article.