Local News

UNC Officials Respond To PETA Investigation

Posted April 18, 2002

— Officials for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said they will conduct an investigation after investigators for People for Ethical Treatment of Animals,

PETA

, claim that they have exposed abusive behavior at the university.

The group released a videotape on Thursday documenting what it said is cruelty to lab animals. PETA said that the video was shot at the

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

.

UNC officials responded to the videotape, saying they plan to conduct a full investigation.

"If we receive allegations of mistreatment of animals, we take those seriously. In looking at the tapes, there are things that I certainly will want to investigate more fully," said Dr. Tony Waldrop, vice-chancellor for research and graduate studies.

A PETA investigator, Kate Turlington, 24, worked as an animal care technician at the Thurston Bowles Building at UNC until Wednesday.

PETA representatives said pictures taken with a concealed camera show no veterinary care for sick and dying animals, cruel killing methods and overcrowded cages among other concerns. It said that the treatment is a violation of recommendations from the National Institutes of Health.

"The United States Department of Agriculture have been allowed to inspect the mice and rats who suffered in horrible condition during our investigator's time at UNC. It would have resulted in, at the very least, a citation for failure to provide proper veterinary care and euthanasia," Sweetland said.

"We understand that using animals in research is a privilege and we view it that way," said Dr. Jeffrey Houpt, Dean of the UNC School of Medicine.

PETA said it hopes that the video will influence a congressional vote scheduled for this week on the Farm Bill.

The bill includes an amendment introduced by North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, which, if passed, would exclude birds, mice, and rats from the protection of the federal Animal Welfare Act and the oversight of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"PETA's investigator documented sick animals left to die in their cages by unresponsive researchers and by indifferent veterinarians who delayed providing veterinary care and euthanasia out of deference to federal grant recipients," said Marybeth Sweetland, PETA vice president.

PETA investigators said they chose to target UNC because it is in Helms' back yard. They said these types of situations are widespread, and even worse at some labs.

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