USDA Files Complaint Against University of California at San Francisco Over Treatment of Animals

U.S. Department of Agriculture filed a complaint against the University of California at San Francisco in late August, charging the university with at least 60 violations of the Animal Welfare Act between 2001 and 2003.

In its 18 page complaint, the USDA charges ranged from failing to provide post-operative anesthesia to failing to properly clean cages. A UCSF spokesman told the San Francisco Chronicle that the complaint appeared to be a compilation of citations the university had received during its biannual USDA inspections.

The UCSF filed a response to the complaint in October denying almost all of the charges made by the USDA. In a press release, the UCSF said,

The University questions the timing of the Complaint, which is a compilation of citations issued by a local USDA inspector during inspections at UCSF between May 2001 and February 2003 — nearly two, to three-and-a-half-years, ago. All of the allegations were addressed by UCSF at the time and, where appropriate, remedial measures were implemented. Corrective actions were reported back to the USDA or verified by the USDA at its subsequent inspection. The USDA has so far failed to explain why it has issued an aggregate Complaint at this time.

The University notes that the number of allegations contained in the USDA Complaint is misleading. The local inspector reported 26 citations for the May 2001-Feb. 2003 period. However, the Complaint, issued from Washington, DC, was structured in such a way that most of the citations were restated multiple times, under different categories, raising the total number of allegations to 61.

In its report on the legal action, The San Francisco Chronicle, repeated a false claim by In Defense of Animals that the USDA charged UCSF with performing a craniotomy on a primate without using anesthesia. In fact, the complaint alleges that the primates were not given post-operative analgesics. The UCSF responded to that particular complaint by claiming that post-operative analgesics were only withheld for clinical reasons.

The full complaint by the USDA can be read here (PDF).


U.S. agency cites UCSF for abuses of animals. Julian Guthrie, San Francisco Chronicle, September 15, 2004.

USDA files animal welfare charges against leading research facility. Press Release, In Defense of Animals, September 15, 2004.

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