The care and treatment of animals in research laboratories at the University of Pittsburgh is in full compliance with the Animal Welfare Act and U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations, the university said this week.
Pitt issued a news release Thursday on the results of an unannounced USDA inspection from Feb. 28 through March 3 that was in response to a 17-page complaint from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Federal officials found “no non-compliant items identified during this inspection,” according to a USDA report available on the website news.pitt.edu.
PETA said it had placed an employee inside Pitt laboratories from September through mid-February. The person observed and photographed lab animals including monkeys, rabbits and rats in what some would call undercover work. PETA, however, called the employee an “eyewitness.”
“The eyewitness worked primarily in the John G. Rangos Sr. Research Building at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh,” says the PETA complaint.
“Our eyewitness documented ... problems with veterinary care, incompetent personnel, failure to handle animals humanely and failure to ensure the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates,” said an email this week to the Post-Gazette from PETA spokeswoman Tasgola Bruner.
The USDA report did not agree with PETA’s contention that federal animal welfare laws were violated.
Pitt’s response posted on the website says, in part, “The university’s animal research program has led to a number of breakthroughs in medical care, and the University of Pittsburgh is committed to the highest standards of care for all research animals.”
It continued, “The university remains committed to the humane care and use of all animals within the contest of the advancement of science and medicine.”
On Thursday, PETA , contending that Pitt continues to “have some very serious violations,” filed a complaint with the National Institutes of Health, said Kathy Guillermo, a senior vice president of the organization.
Pitt received $475 million in federal funds in 2016 and much of that came from NIH, Ms. Guillermo said. “The NIH has teeth if they choose to use them. We find that the public is very upset about animal experimentation and we will see that they are informed about it.”
Linda Wilson Fuoco: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-3064.