The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for inspecting entities that do experiments on animals and ensuring the enforcement of the minimal standards outlined in the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).
APHIS inspectors conduct an inspection of a facility for three reasons:
- Getting their initial facility license: Before the USDA gives an entity a license, APHIS inspects to make sure they’re up to code.
- Responding to a complaint: APHIS inspects entities following a complaint.
- Annual inspections: These are supposed to happen annually, even though that often doesn’t happen.
When APHIS inspectors complete an inspection, they file a report. If there’s a violation of the AWA, the inspector is supposed to document it in that report, which is available online. Here are 5 examples of AWA violations from these reports:
- University of Texas: Monkey Burned and Drowned to Death by Accident – In March 2017, a monkey was left in a cage and was transported to the washroom where the cage was hosed down then processed through the cage wash. The monkey was found dead following the wash and a successful necropsy was not possible because of the condition of the monkey’s remains.
- University of Massachusetts at Amherst: Monkey Burned Alive by Accident – A monkey was accidentally burned alive during an experiment-related surgery. The monkey was under anesthesia and staff didn’t notice that the device used to heat the monkey was killing it instead. It died three days later.
- Washington University: Dog Died When Staff Forgot to Call a Vet – In 2018, after a dog was forced to endure an experiment-related surgery, its health started to fail. Staff alerted the attending veterinarian, who told the staff to alert the on-call veterinarian if the dog got worse. The staff ultimately failed to do so, and the dog died. The investigation after the fact blamed the death on the failure to place that phone call.
- Toxikon Corporation: Unattended Dog Accidentally Suffocated to Death – A dog forced to undergo surgery for an experiment was placed under general anesthesia. Staff didn’t notice that the dog wasn’t getting enough oxygen. The report found that staff didn’t even attend to the dog, and didn’t consistently monitor the dog’s vital signs. The dog suffocated to death due to the staff’s lack of attention.
- Temple University: Wrong Cat Accidentally Euthanized – It’s bad enough that a cat was used in an experiment and was scheduled to be killed, but experimenters at Temple weren’t paying attention to what they were doing and put down the wrong cat in 2016. This wasn’t discovered until much later, when the cat was dissected.