Target: Harvard University President Drew Faust
Goal: End the cruel treatment of lab animals
Four monkeys have died at Harvard Medical School’s laboratory in Southborough, Massachusetts. Further investigation led to the conclusion that the deaths were the result of repeated violations of the Animal Welfare Act. It is bad enough that these monkeys are subjected to cruel and unnecessary tests, but the university has failed to provide proper protection for them and this must stop immediately.
In one of the cases, a laboratory worker overdosed a monkey with anesthetic, which caused it to die of liver failure. Two of the monkeys died from dehydration and another was strangled to death when a chain attached to a toy in its cage wrapped around its neck. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) led the investigation, which ultimately concluded that the deaths were clearly the result of abuse and neglect, and that there were several other violations as well. Two of these incidents occurred in 2011 and were never made public by the university, despite the fact that they are required to report death and injury.
Harvard’s violations were severe enough to receive a fine of $24,000 by the USDA, an incredibly rare occurrence. The university agreed to pay the fines, which could have been far more severe, as the USDA originally intended to charge Harvard Medical School $10,000 for each of its 11 violations. The fines were reduced because the university took aggressive and immediate action to make improvements.
Unfortunately, fines rarely keep incidents like this from happening in the future. Both Oxford University and the University of California at Davis have received numerous fines for violations in the past, yet have continued to be repeat offenders. A spokesperson for PETA responded to the fines, saying, ““For an institution that receives $185 million annually in taxpayer funds alone, half of which is spent on animal experiments, a $24,000 fine for years of abusing and neglecting monkeys won’t motivate Harvard to do better by animals.”
More severe penalties, penalties that will incite action and consideration, must be implemented in order to keep laboratories like those at Harvard from continuing to violate the Animal Welfare Act. Please sign the petition below and demand that Harvard Medical School be forced to change its policies and ensure that the welfare of these animals is their primary consideration.
Dear President Faust,
Harvard Medical School recently came under scrutiny after an investigation by the USDA led to the discovery that your research lab committed 11 violations against the Animal Welfare Act. Four of these incidents resulted in the deaths of monkeys, including one that died of dehydration and another that died of liver failure when it was given an overdose of anesthesia. This is simply unacceptable. These animals should not be subject to such tests to begin with, but their welfare should certainly be a priority above all others.
I demand that you improve the conditions in your facility immediately. It is unlikely that the $24,000 fine the university had to pay will act as much of a deterrent. Repeat offenses are all too common in university research labs even after citations are given. These animals’ lives are difficult enough, please ensure their safety and their welfare.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Amy_Jane via Flickr