CORVALLIS, Ore. -- A nonprofit against animal testing has fielded a complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture against Oregon State University, alleging negligent acts that lead to the death of at least five animals.
Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN), an Ohio-based nonprofit, obtained public records that show four sheep and at least one cow died at OSU during a two-year period.
Documents show three lambs died after being attacked by coyotes and a fourth sheep died after a surgery.
Records also show a cow died after it went down in "head locks" and hung itself.
Another public record shows a whistleblower contacted the university after a cow became sick with mastitis, recommending the cow be euthanized. But instead, the whistleblower claims officials refused and "prolonged the suffering of the cow."
"We are pushing for the maximum penalty of $10,000 per infraction, per animal," said Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN.
Jolie Dickerson, a senior and animal science major, said OSU takes better care of their animals compared to some private ranchers.
"Every class that I've taken, we've had to go through a series of classes on animal welfare and how to handle the animals," Dickerson said. "We're pretty compassionate with what we are doing. We don't want our animals be hurt at any point."
The following is a statement from Vice President of University Relations and Marketing Steve Clark:
"We dispute these characterizations as not being representative of the facts of the unexpected events, which the university had previously self-reported and positively dealt with.
"Oregon State University humanely conducts research and teaching involving animals to advance the knowledge, wellness and care of humans and animals and takes very seriously matters of animal welfare. OSU faculty, staff and students are required to adhere to the highest ethical standards while using animals in research and teaching.
"OSU conducts hundreds of research and teaching activities annually involving thousands of animals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, and millions of fish.
"In all cases, it is OSU’s goal that adverse and unforeseen events are appropriately managed to prevent or minimize animal pain and suffering, as much as possible, and that necessary steps are taken to prevent recurrence.
"These cases represent unforeseen impacts to five of the more than 12,000 animals in OSU’s care.
"OSU’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and attending veterinarian in the university’s Laboratory Animal Resource Center independently oversee the care and use of animals and related procedures. This oversight is in keeping with federal Animal Welfare Act and regulations, and is in keeping with animal care standards required by funding entities, such as National Institute of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Unexpected incidents, non- compliance, facility issues and other program concerns are required to be reported to the IACUC.
"Unexpected events rarely occur. OSU’s systems require such events to be reported and acted upon under IACUC review. Actions that will be taken following the report of an unexpected event include clarification of the events and reason that resulted in an unexpected event and steps to be taken to avoid future incidents.
"Mr. Budkie also mischaracterizes OSU’s reporting to the U.S. Department of Agriculture information regarding improper surgical procedures involving sheep.
"OSU self-reported this matter on Aug. 15, 2018, to the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And an investigation and oversight of these matters, including corrective measures, were completed by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Since these actions were taken by the university, the federal Office of Laboratory Welfare said in August 2018 that it had determined that OSU had implemented sufficient measures to correct this matter and prevent its recurrence.
"As it regards the inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the USDA performed a follow up inspection on May 23, 2018, to evaluate OSU’s corrective response to issues identified in its inspection in April 2018. No citations were identified during the follow-up inspection in May."
Below is a copy of the complaint SAEN sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture: