An animal rights group has filed a new complaint against Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), after OHSU released a new report detailing the recent deaths of seven animals used in medical research over the past 16 months.
OHSU’s primate research center is located in Beaverton and houses approximately 5,000 monkeys. At any one time, 120 experiments may be conducted by scientists.
The University released the report after the Ohio-based group, Stop Animal Exploitation Now, filed for its release under the Freedom of Information Act. The report found that there were nine serious problems in the operations of the primate center over the past 16 months.
From one monkey bleeding to death after pulling out its shunt to another passing out because it drank too much alcohol – the incidents ranged in their severity and oddity.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed earlier this year that they have opened up an investigation into The University’s primate center.
The Primate Center’s medical director, Nancy Haigwood, said that mistakes happen.
“They happen for the same reason that mistakes happen in a hospital.” Haigwood said, “People make mistakes from time-to-time, we’re not perfect. We’re trying to be. We certainly always want to provide the best care and best procedures for our animals, just as we would for our dogs or our children. But sometimes, things aren’t perfect.”
OHSU paid a $12,000 penalty to the USDA four years ago after the escape of nine monkeys and the death of five others at its primate center in 2009. OHSU and has received multiple warning letters since those incidents. Over the past two years, the OHSU Primate Center has been warned by the USDA about monkeys being burned by heating pads; dying from respiratory distress and getting in fights.
Micheal Budkie with Stop Animal Exploitation Now said, “If research facilities are so inept that they cannot follow basic procedures and are accidentally killing animals during experiments, what does that say about the ability of these facilities to perform research that actually has any scientific relevance.”
Budkie argues that the primate center should be shut down. Stop Animal Exploitation Now Is calling for the maximum penalty to be levied against OHSU – $10,000 per infraction per animal.
OHSU has also been under scrutiny this past year for its use of fetal body tissue as a part of its medical research. OHSU partnered with Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette to obtain the fetal tissue.
In June, OHSU was also accused of union-busting tactics. OHSU Police Officers have filed complaints with the state Employment Regulations Board and the Oregon Bureau of Labor accusing the University of punishing whistle blowers and union activities.