AAALAC, a key accreditation body, needs to intervene before more animals suffer
In case you missed it, we recently uncovered yet another sad chapter of blatant animal abuse at University of California-Davis.
In the Guardian story covering our finding, former primate researcher Prof. John Gluck summarized the findings this way:
“Seven infant rhesus monkeys ranging in age from one to 19 days of age were forcibly removed from their mothers, had a physical exam, were tattooed, had blood drawn, were marked with a dye with irritant capacity, and then placed back on their anesthetized and unresponsive mothers. How could UC Davis fail to consider that this intensely stress-provoking experience would place these infants at risk? Negligence is the word I would use.”
In short, baby monkeys were poisoned to death at UC-Davis because of staff negligence. Sadly, abuses like this aren’t even unusual at UC-Davis anymore. Something has to change.
The American Association for Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) isn’t a government body, to be clear. It’s an international membership-based non-profit organization operating in 43 countries dating back to 1965 that essentially certifies entities doing animal experiments as not only meeting the minimum standards required by applicable laws in that jurisdiction, but who are also “going the extra step to achieve excellence in animal care and use” to use AAALAC’s words.
Why UC-Davis Deserves an AAALAC Suspension
In our view, the chronic violations of animal welfare taking place at UC-Davis warrant an AAALAC intervention. They’ve been cited 6 times by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) in the last 3 years for critical animal welfare violations. In the last 21 months, UC-Davis has also been forced to report 10 instances of noncompliance (with federal law) to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (NIH-OLAW).
Precedent: AAALAC and Harvard’s Primate Center in 2012
In 2012, the Boston Globe revealed that AAALAC reportedly placed the New England Primate Research Center (NEPRC) on probationary status following the deaths of 2 primates. The NEPRC’s abuses were so awful that when confronted, Harvard simply closed the entire center. NEAVS supported AAALAC’s decision to suspend the NEPRC AAAALAC certification then, and we believe it’s time for AAALAC to do the same for UC-Davis. The fines UC-Davis incurs are low enough to be rounding errors in the UC-Davis budget, which is why a more important punishment like an AAALAC suspension is the best hope to get the attention of UC-Davis administrators who consistently fail to follow state and federal laws related to animal welfare.