PETA Calls on Feds to Investigate Cornell’s Animal Welfare Practices
ITHACA, NY—The well-known animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has sent letters to Cornell University and the United States Department of Agriculture demanding that the treatment of animals by the school is investigated.
PETA’s request, to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, addresses various claims made at Cornell between April 2018 and earlier this year. The organization’s claims are based on a communication between the school’s life sciences department and the National Institute of Health, in which the school self-reports violations of laboratory animal protocol, normally during any testing, and NIH officials assess the school’s response and submit a remedial plan. .
PETA’s letters are addressed to Dr. Robert M. Gibbens of the USDA Animal Welfare Operations Division and Cornell University President Dr. Martha Pollack. The letter to Pollack calls on him to more severely punish those at the school who have committed violations of animal welfare protocols during care or lab procedures.
There are 17 documented incidents during the time period in question, some of which had previously been reported and flagged by PETA. The most recent incident took place on April 29, 2022, when a sheep died from an improperly administered artery graft, and is the most central to PETA’s complaint. The procedure was carried out on five sheep – on four of the sheep it was successful, but the final transplant in the sheep failed because the graft was able to heal for less time than the others, and although medical responses were attempted, they also failed and the animal was euthanized after two failed surgeries.
“We believe that the treatment of sheep at Cornell described in the incidents
detailed below does not meet the standards of veterinary care of the
[Animal Welfare Regulations]reads the letter to the USDA.
Two other incidents date back to March 2022: seven mice that were to be euthanized were kept in an unapproved place and were not given enough water and food before being euthanized; and application of anesthesia to sheep that did not follow approved procedures, although the report noted that “no breakthrough pain was observed.” These incidents are not specifically included in PETA’s request for investigation.
In each incident, communication from the NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare shows that officials were satisfied with the explanation provided by Cornell and agreed with the corrective plans suggested by Cornell.
Cornell officials did not respond to a request for comment.
The demands mark another salvo against the school by PETA, which has criticized Cornell’s veterinary and adjacent practices for years, including in the spring of 2020 when the organization raised similar allegations about Cornell’s animal welfare policies. , even citing some of the same incidents cited in the new letters, sent on October 20.
At that time, Cornell Vice President Joel Malina said the school always “demanded[d] any investigator or instructor wishing to use animals to perform this work in accordance with all laws, regulations and policies governing the care and use of animals.