Government Fails to Enforce Animal Rights

    Dear Editor,

    Thank you for your article on the controversy over animal
    experimentation (“Of Mice and Men,” April 21). It’s a tragic day for California
    taxpayers when the UC system responds to public outcry over the suffering of
    animals by proposing to curtail free speech and to limit access to records on
    animal use. It would be more useful for the UC to deal with the problems within
    its laboratories. Numerous federal reports indicate that facilities routinely
    flout even the minimal protections of the Animal Welfare Act, the only federal
    law that provides protection for animals in laboratories. According to multiple
    federal audits, even this law, which deals mainly with caging and husbandry
    issues, is not being adequately enforced, and it entirely excludes rats, mice
    and birds.

    A scathing 2005 audit report published by the U.S.
    Department of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General shows that
    Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees — oversight committees that are
    charged with approving proposed experiments and ensuring that laws and
    regulations are followed — are utterly failing to carry out their
    responsibilities. As a result, sick animals go without veterinary care, animals
    used in invasive surgeries do not receive sufficient pain relief and extremely
    sick animals are denied humane euthanasia. An astounding 29 percent, nearly a
    third, of oversight committees are failing to ensure that experimenters look
    for alternatives to painful procedures on animals, as they’re required to do.

    The failure of IACUCs to ensure that the AWA is enforced
    results in immense suffering for animals used in sometimes painful, often
    stressful and ultimately lethal experiments. UC officials need to stop pushing
    for legislation that curtails freedom of speech and information and focus
    instead on fixing the mess created by the arrogance and carelessness of its
    animal experimenters.

    — Alka Chandna, Ph.D.

    Laboratory Oversight Specialist,

    People for the Ethical Treatment

    of Animals

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