RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A research department at VCU is under fire tonight from the Humane Society of the United States.
The animal rights group is criticizing the University after two government reports detailed violations of the federal standard for animal care in university labs. VCU claims the incidents are isolated and the school reported the information to the government voluntarily.
The reports, issued by the National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Agriculture include six different incidents in university labs dating back to 2005, where animals in a laboratory setting, were treated inappropriately. The Humane Society is concerned a pattern is developing.
"To us, they are very serious were talking about animal deaths, animals starving," said Kathleen Conlee, director of program management for Animal Research Issues for The HSUS.
Among the issues cited: In May of 2005, a rabbit was killed after his cage went through a washer, while he was still inside. Also in 2008 a group of monkeys were housed alone- a serious problem in primates, which led to considerable distress, as seen in this video from a different laboratory, obtained undercover by the Humane Society.
VCU responded to the report in a statement by pointing out that it has complied with federal rules and that "..the ethical treatment of the animal is a primary responsibility."
That is not enough for the Humane Society. It believes VCU must do more.
"(They need) to adopt an intended policy that would prohibit the animals from experiencing unintended pain and discomfort," said Conlee.
VCU does not have plans to institute such a policy, but said: "Any procedures involving animals are performed with careful consideration of the relevance to human or animal health, the advancement of knowledge or benefit to society at large."
VCU also pointed out tonight that the majority of universities that have signed on to the Humane Society policy, are not research universities.