Disturbing new evidence of cruelty to animals at Covance Laboratories may foil the company’s plans to build a huge new animal-testing facility in Chandler, Ariz. The federal government recently fined Covance based on documented allegations of striking, choking, and tormenting primates at its Virginia facility. Company officials dismissed that abuse as an anomaly.
However, newly obtained U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection reports reveal that in 2005 alone, five other Covance facilities, operating as Covance Research Products, committed serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act. PCRM experts have produced a report based on these inspection documents, which reveal a wide array of problems.
Veterinary Care Violations
Two Covance facilities were cited in 2005 for having inadequate veterinary care. Rabbits at a Pennsylvania facility were denied proper veterinary care for months; USDA inspectors observed two rabbits showing clear signs of distress. Pigs at another facility could not move normally because their claws were so severely overgrown.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, every research facility must have an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which is charged with approving all research protocols at its facility and withholding approval on all protocols that do not comply with the law. The reports listed citations for all five Covance facilities for failure of the IACUC to properly adhere to the Animal Welfare Act. Specific violations included IACUCs approving protocols that failed to explain the rationale for using animals or the number used, approving protocol that failed to address the pain and distress the animals would experience, and IACUC members routinely being absent from meetings.
Sanitation, Enclosures, and Facilities Violations
A Covance facility in Berkeley, Calif., was cited for several violations, including hosing down dog enclosures while the dogs were still inside, holes in the floor of rabbit cages big enough for feet to get caught, and improper drainage.
Animals at one Covance location were discovered by inspectors in an area within the facility that had not been reported, as required by law. If the inspectors had not happened upon the animals, the inspectors would not have been able to perform their legally mandated inspection of the animals’ treatment.
Covance has told the residents of Chandler that it operates with high regard for the welfare of animals and for the law. These claims have been disproven by the USDA inspectors’ independent reviews.
Please ask your senators to support Senate Resolution 451, the Pet Safety and Protection Act, which would prohibit Class B dealers from selling dogs and cats to laboratories for use in experiments. Some Class B animal dealers are known to have acquired animals through theft and deception and to have sold lost or stolen cats and dogs to experimenters and medical schools. The abuse of dogs and cats by Class B dealers is a serious problem and was detailed in the recent HBO documentary Dealing Dogs.
There are at least 93,000 cats and dogs in experimentation facilities, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
For more information about the Pet Safety and Protection Act and to e-mail your senators, please send a letter to your senators at:
Office of Senator (Name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510