The University of California, Davis, has agreed to pay a penalty of $5,000 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to resolve a citation under the Animal Welfare Act.
The July 2016 citation described a procedure on a rabbit that was to be euthanized before recovering from anesthesia. The rabbit died under anesthesia when a valve was inadvertently left closed. As a result, staff have been retrained and the valves replaced with valves that are open by default.
In 2016, the Investigative and Enforcement Service of USDA had notified the university that it would conduct an investigation. UC Davis cooperated fully with the investigation process.
In March 2018, USDA notified UC Davis that it had determined a penalty of $5,000 for the July 2016 citation. UC Davis has accepted this penalty.
“While incidents like these are rare considering the scale of our research programs involving animals, each one is taken very seriously and investigated to prevent future occurrences,” said Cameron Carter, interim vice chancellor for Research at UC Davis. “Our expectation is to provide the best possible care to any animal in our charge, treating their safety and welfare as paramount, and our committed staff goes to great lengths to ensure this. Unfortunately, some mistakes happen, but we are quick to learn from them and take appropriate actions to further improve care.”
Oversight of animal use is heavily regulated by multiple sources. All research studies at the university involving animals require review and approval by the campus’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee to ensure ethical and humane treatment. This committee includes public representatives as well as faculty and staff. The IACUC also inspects facilities conducting animal research every six months.
UC Davis is accredited by the International Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, or AAALAC, an independent nonprofit organization. Application for the accreditation is voluntary and requires re-evaluation every three years. The university also conducted a comprehensive internal review of animal care on campus in 2017 in preparation of transitioning the program to the Office of Research. The report found no systemic shortcomings in the animal care program but made a number of recommendations to further strengthen the program.
At the federal level, animal research is overseen by the Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Animal Care Unit, and the National Institutes of Health Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.
More information regarding research involving animals can be found here.