Friday, January 1, 2010

UW-Madison Animal Research - More Problems Ahead

Here's the December 2009 USDA/APHIS Inspection Report that got the news media's attention this time around.

Feds Find Problems With UW-Madison's Animal Research
Program Gets More Than $200M In Federal Funding Each Year (WISC-TV)
December 31, 2009

Federal animal welfare inspectors find 20 violations at UW-Madison
Wisconsin State Journal
December 31, 2009

USDA Found More Animal Research Violations At UW
Federal Agencies Conduct Joint Investigation Of UW Program (WISC-TV)
January 1, 2010

I couldn't help but notice the change in the statements being made UW-Madison head vivisector and spokesperson Eric Sandgren. He must have received an order from the public relations office.

Here's what he told WISC-TV reporter Linda Eggert on Wednesday after giving her a copy of the inspection report he had had in his possession for a few days:
"We passed the final exam, but we didn't get a hundred, and that's what we're working for," said Sandgren, who directs the group in charge of overseeing animal research.

Sandgren said the agencies simply felt it was time to do a comprehensive check and that OLAW needed to follow up on questions it had about UW-Madison's five-year renewal of its "public assurance" application for federal funding.

"Obviously, we took it very seriously. Their comments to us were that basically they thought we we're doing very well," Sandgren said.
Here he is being quoted two days later by Wisconsin State Journal reporter Deborah Ziff:
Sandgren said that when he got the 10-page report, "my stomach just went clunk."

"I'm not at all happy with the things listed there," he said. "That's just not acceptable."
Tomorrow, the university will have a different story; I imagine the PR office is working overtime.

All of this jive has to be placed in context. Sandgren and other vivisectors say routinely that the animals they use are respected and well cared for. They say routinely that strict regulations are in place that assure high quality care and careful monitoring of the animals.

The Animal Welfare Act, the main set of regulations routinely pointed to by the vivisectors as proof that the animals they experiment on are well cared for, has at its core, the idea that much effort must be made to insure that animals are used only when no alternative exists, that the least stressful and least painful methods are used, and that careful monitoring and safeguards are in place.

But the current inspection report makes it very clear that the Animal Welfare Act is routinely ignored by Sandgren and his fellow vivisectors at UW-Madison. They use the Act as a shield to deflect public criticism of their personal decision to spend their lives hurting animals. The simple fact that people who chose to spend their lives hurting animals will lie about it without qualm isn't a revelation. Liars thrive in society because we expect people to be generally truthful.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison vivisectors have more troubles ahead. The details of what led to this joint inspection visit haven't yet been exposed. No one has yet spoken about the revolt by the Vet school animal care staff, the details of the three suspended protocols, the details of the Michele Basso scandal; there is much dirt hiding under the UW's red rug that will come out in time and be blazened in more embarrassing headlines.

UW-Madison's animal research program is filled with rot and festering secrets. Stay tuned.

A funny postscript: The USDA Inspection Report linked to above is a copy provided to local media by Eric Sandgren. Notice the redactions. Sandgren et al argue that if animal rights activists (me, for instance) were to learn where animals were being kept on campus, that we would go berzerk, break in and destroy decades of "life-saving" research, undoubtely, just on the brink of a cure for some hideous disease of children. That's why the buildings and room numbers are blacked out. But why in the world would Sandgren et al hide USDA Veterinary Medical Officer Dawn Barksdale's name? Her name has been on these reports many times over the past few years. Here's the same much less redacted report posted on line by the USDA. BTW, the only research data destroyed at the university as a direct result of animal rights activism were the 628 videotapes of fifteen years of primate research destroyed by the university to keep them out of the public's hands after activists asked for a copy of a single one. Go figure.

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