Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Primate Center Cleared Of Abuse Accusation

Federal regulators have cleared the Oregon National Primate Research Center of complaints that workers routinely mistreated monkeys at the Hillsboro site.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates animal care at federally funded biomedical research facilities, sent two veterinarians to the center last week. The inspectors issued a three-sentence report, released Tuesday, which concluded, "No non-compliant items were identified during the inspection."

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a national animal-rights group, filed a formal complaint with the USDA on Nov. 13. It alleged that some of the center's 4,200 monkeys suffered needlessly at the hands of center personnel.

The complaint was based on the observations of an undercover investigator for PETA, who took a job as a monkey handler at the center from April to July.

PETA accused the center of violating eight provisions of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including failing to prevent monkeys from suffering trauma, behavioral stress, physical harm and unnecessary discomfort. The group also accused the center of failing to provide timely or effective veterinary care to monkeys suffering from chronic vomiting, kidney stones and other ailments.

Center officials described the accusations as outrageous propaganda by agenda-driven activists.

On Tuesday, Michael Conn, the acting head of the center's animal services division, said he thought reasonable people would take the word of USDA inspectors over unnamed animal-rights activists.

"Our business involves offering hope to people with disease," Conn said. "My colleagues and I will not be deterred by extremist organizations or those who choose to campaign based on false information and harassment."

Kathy Guillermo, PETA's director of research, said she doubted the USDA's veterinary medical officers had time to do a thorough investigation of the group's complaint. The government report said a team inspection was conducted Nov. 26-27 in response to a complaint, but the USDA also called its review a "routine inspection."

"This kind of thing usually takes them weeks or months to do," Guillermo said. "I don't know how in a two-day period all the things we alleged could be investigated."

Story here.

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