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USDA finds 'health problems' at closed animal lab

Posted October 8, 2010

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— Federal inspectors found a large number of dogs with health problems at a research lab closed amid allegations of abuse and ordered it to upgrade its facilities and provide documentation that there weren't less painful alternatives to its testing procedures.

U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors visited the Professional Laboratory and Research Services Inc. facility in Corapeake on Sept. 14. Three days later, PLRS announced that the lab was closing, and animal rescue groups from across the East Coast held a 14-hour effort to remove more than 200 animals from the facility.

The inspection and mass animal rescue came after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals accused the lab of abusing dogs, cats and rabbits. PETA released video taken by a volunteer who had worked undercover at the lab.

The USDA ordered the lab to develop a program to identify and treat animals' health problems, including traumatic injuries. The report suggested improving facilities, including drainage, and conducting more frequent health checks.

PLRS said in a release that the USDA inspection found "no evidence of animal neglect or abuse."

"The USDA's inspection report shows there is no proof to PETA's unfounded accusations," PLRS Vice President Dr. Larry Cruthers, who is a veterinary parasitologist, said in a statement.

"PLRS was the target of a premeditated smear campaign by PETA, a group that opposes all forms of biomedical research," he continued. "PETA's contrived video was engineered to mislead the public about PLRS and the company's strong commitment to animal welfare and regulatory compliance."

Meanwhile, PETA issued a news release says the USDA inspection confirmed the group's findings.

"We look forward to the results of the full investigation and any penalties and prosecutions that may come of it," PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in the release.

The USDA report states that inspectors found "a large number of dogs" with "health problems," including dental, foot, ear and eye diseases. It also noted rusted caging and drainage problems in the kennels and rough plastic resting surfaces for dogs – a problem uncorrected after being noted in a June 2009 inspection.

The report noted one dog with an apparent severe allergic reaction that needed immediate veterinary care and another dog that had untreated lacerations on its ear that appeared to be a couple days and to have been caused by another dog, though staffers couldn't say where the injuries came from.

USDA inspectors said that the PLRS hadn't provided enough documentation that was using the least painful testing procedures possible.

The lab "did not have a written narrative description of the methods and sources used to determine that alternatives to potentially painful procedures were not available," the report states. "There was only a statement that there were no alternatives to live animals."

In the June 2009 inspection, the lab was ordered to provide documentation proving it was necessary for testing to grow ticks on rabbits, which were left with "large areas of reddened, scabby skin on their backs."

PLRS defended that particular practice, saying it was necessary to practice products to protect against ticks that carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and other diseases.


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  • Dagn Oct 8, 2010

    I hope this facility is shut down and all of the employees are sent to a facility that will do human testing and they all suffer the same treatment they gave the animals. Boo hoo to all the whiny losers that work at this place. They are all a piece of Cherry Red Apple Pie!

  • james24 Oct 8, 2010

    If PLRS believes they were the victim of a smear campaign, they should file a lawsuit against PETA. Then a jury can decide who the real victims were in this case.

  • A-Wake Oct 8, 2010

    "You can judge a society by the way it treats its animals" - Gandhi

    We need to support companies that don't test animals.

  • intrinsic_value Oct 8, 2010

    It is time for STEM to advance ethical, non-animal testing methods.

  • quiturwhining Oct 8, 2010

    You folks that hate PETA should go to their website and read about all they do. You don't have to agree with all their views or tactics, but they're out there for animals like no one else. That's where I learned about all the products tested on animals--shampoo, dish soap, detergent, cosmetics, oven cleaner ... Now I use products that no innocent rabbit, dog, cat, etc. had to be tortured for. It won't stop until consumers vote with their wallets and take a stand.

  • james24 Oct 8, 2010

    Apparently, you can earn BIG money selling ticks:


  • kikinc Oct 8, 2010

    I dislike PETA, too, but I, too, have to give them a high five on this. It was just utterly disgusting. A woman I work with, along with the Triangle Beagle Rescue, participated in the mass animal rescue. The pictures she brought back with her broke hearts. I can't understand how anyone could be so cruel. And is it really that important for us to test human products on animals anyway?

  • ConcernedNCarolinian Oct 8, 2010

    I can't believe that there still exist "discussion" about this - Corapeake PLRS staff members were blatantly abusing the animals. Forget what rules and prcedures existed because they were not being followed. The best thing PLRS can do right nowt o save their own lousy tails is admit fault and promise that employees will be supervised at a more appropriate level.

    This is SICKENING. I hate PETA, but PETA did well this time.

  • quiturwhining Oct 8, 2010

    OK wait--Dogs with untreated diseases, lacerations, and traumatic injuries; kennels with poor drainage-what do you think is sitting in those drains?; and rabbits with ticks purposely sucking on them and leaving wounds that form scabs--and there's no evidence of abuse? That's a pile of undrained kennel plop right there! And aren't dental, ear and eye diseases some of the most painful? And foot diseases? What? From standing in their own ...? How many years, how many rabbits do they have to torture to figure out what works??

    Unfortunately, this is the typical scene. Why give vet care to animals that you are inflicting pain on? You can't both heal and torture an animal. Not cost-effective, not logical. They suffer for some period of time and then they're killed. Sweet dalmatian in that picture, huh? We really need those tests???