John Hopkins Reaches $25K Settlement with USDA

Stop Animal Exploitation Now issued a press release in August claiming that, back in February, John Hopkins University reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to settle a number of complaints over alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Most of the alleged violations occurred between 1998 and 2003.

In the settlement agreement, a copy of which was also obtained by the Chronicle of Higher Education, John Hopkins did not admit any wrongdoing.

According to the Chronicle, John Hopkins was by far the top recipient of research grants from the National Institutes of Health, receiving $599 million in 2004 for 1,300 projects.

The various complaints filed by USDA inspectors included failure to provide anesthesia or veterinary care, to inappropriate housing for 37 primates at the university’s Krieger Mind/Brain Institute.

In the SAEN press release, Michael Budkie said,

In April of 2004 we labeled Johns Hopkins one of the worst labs in the nation for violating the Animal Welfare Act at least 31 times in three years. Apparently the USDA agrees with our investigation, which uncovered a wide array of illegal activity at Johns Hopkins.

Presumably if the USDA really felt that way, it wouldn’t have settled for a relatively small $25,000 settlement fine.

For its part, John Hopkins University spokeswoman Joanna Downer told The Chronicle,

[John Hopkins University] has been making great improvements in the processes in place to oversee animal research and to maintain and improve the quality of our research and care program. If our animals aren’t doing well, it doesn’t contribute to excellent research.


John Hopkins U. Agrees to $25,000 Settlement Over Animal-Care Allegations. Jeffrey Brainard, The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 10, 2005.

Johns Hopkins University labs slapped with hefty $25,000 USDA fine after watchdog group files complaint. Press Release, Stop Animal Exploitation Now, August 9, 2005.

SAEN Not So Sane

The Davis Enterprise ran an interesting article about a protest organized by Stop Animal Exploitation Now directed at the California National Primate Research Center at the University of California at Davis.

According to The Davis Enterprise,

Protesters chanted and held signs reading, “Stop your animal torture,” “Animal research is scientific fraud” and “Better ways exist” in front of the primate center west of the main campus, at Hutchison Drive and County Road 98.

“Animals at this laboratory are sick and suffering needlessly,” said Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN.

But just how accurate are SAEN’s claims about what goes on at the research center? According to the Enterprise (emphasis added),

Aside from ongoing arguments over whether animal research is necessary, SAEN alleges staff negligence leading to stress, suffering and death of test animals at UCD’s center. The group examined necropsy reports for 583 animals that died from May 2002 through April 2003, obtained through freedom of information requests.

Budkie said many of these reports simply list the deceased animal as “found dead in cage” with no clinical history, “which tells me they didn’t even know the animal was sick.”

Capitanio said allegations of staff negligence are “categorically false,” noting that the center has six full-time on-site veterinarians, two veterinary residents, one clinical fellow, 13 animal health technicians, four enrichment coordinators and 85 animal care workers focused on the health and well-being of the animals.

Capitanio said necropsy reports only include a pathologist’s observations during an exam of the deceased animal and SAEN has “drawn a series of inferences based … on a lack of information.”

In one example of alleged neglect, SAEN cited a January 2003 necropsy report of a primate that lost 40 percent of her body weight in 22 days. However, Capitanio said this animal’s quick weight loss can be attributed to giving birth. He said the animal then developed intestinal problems that were unresponsive to treatment, so she was euthanized to end her suffering.

Or consider another complaint that Budkie brought up — apparent discrepancies in the number of primate deaths and total animals reported by the primate center to different agencies. This is a common canard that Budkie recycles regularly,

Capitanio said discrepancies in the number of deaths, as cited by SAEN, is simply a difference between calendar year and fiscal year totals.

“It’s basically a timing window issue,” Capitanio said. “They (animal rights groups) use whatever means they can to try to discredit researchers and in some cases, harass researchers.”

A difference in the number of animals reported to various agencies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health, he explained, is due to those agencies’ requirements. Only the number of animals involved in studies funded by a particular agency are supposed to be reported to that agency, he said.

Its not his fault — that fiscal/calendar year difference is probably too difficult for Budkie to grasp.


Protesters picket primate provisions. Sharon Stello, Davis Enterprise, July 18, 2005.

SAEN: Animal Research? Must Be The Money!

Stop Animal Exploitation Now’s Leana Stormont held a press conference at the University of Iowa in February to denounce animal research outside Spence Laboratories.

Spence Laboratories was the site of a much-publicized Animal Liberation Front attack last year, in which animals were stolen and machinery was smashed by extremists.

Stormont held a press conference outside Spence saying that the only reason researchers at the University of Iowa were continuing to conduct animal research was to enrich themselves.

Stormont said,

Barbaric experiments are under way at the University of Iowa. This is not about science. This is about money — attracing hundreds of thousands of dollars to UI’s coffers.

But Stormont seems to have limited knowledge about the research going on at the University of Iowa. The Iowa City Press-Citizen noted that Stormant denounced University of Iowa researcher Gary Van Hoesen research on macaques.

Just one problem, according to the Press-Citizen,

However, Van Hoesen said he has not used monkeys since 1982. He now conducts research on the human brain related to Alzheimer’s disease

Animal rights activists’ compassion is matched only by their accuracy.

Update/Correction: Thanks to Rick Bogle for pointing out that there are serious problems with the Press-Citizen’s reporting above that Van Hoesen has not done any research on monkeys since 1982. Van Hoesen is, in fact, listed as the last author on a number of studies that involve research on monkeys in recent years. Van Hoesen is probably correct that he hasn’t personally done any research on monkeys, and his name is probably being add as the last author due to convention of adding senior researchers and program heads on research that comes out of their department (Van Hoesen is the director of the Alzheimer’s disease program at the University of Iowa). But Stormont was being completely reasonable, in my opinion, in assuming that Van Hoesen was conducting research on monkeys since his name was attached to a number of such studies, and the Press-Citizen and/or Van Hoesen was being grossly unfair and deceptive in depicting Stormont as being ignorant or relying on outdated information. AnimalRights.Net regrets reproducing the Press-Citizen’s deceptive characterization of Stormont.


UI target of animal rights group. Kristen Schorsch, Iowa City Press-Citizen, February 11, 2005.

Group pressures University of Iowa to halt animal research. Associated Press, February 11, 2005.

Activists Protest at UCLA Neuropsychology Building

As part of National Primate LiberatioN Week, the Daily Bruin reported that animal rights activists marched from the Federal Building in Los Angeles to the University of California – Los Angeles Neuropsychology building to protest primate research that UCLA carries out.

According to the Daily Bruin, the protest was put together in response to a report released by Michael Budkie of Stop Animal Exploitation Now! that primate research in the United States is expanding overall. Budkie told the Daily Bruin that his group hoped to appeal to faculty and students to change minds about primate research,

Whlie some people at universities get paid to perform experiments, I know that other scientists have higher ethical standards.

The Daily Bruin quoted protester Dena Snedden repeating the animal rights line that animal research is driven largely by greedy animal researchers,

It’s time that they explore and implement humane medical research. The technology is there. The reason this [animal research] is happening is to line certain individuals’ pockets at the animals’ expense and the public’s expense.

Lets take a look at one of these greedy bastard researchers, Lynne Fairbanks, whom the protesters named as one of UCLA’s primate researchers.

Fairbanks’ recent research has centered centers on understanding the neurobiology of human interactions — i.e. the role that brain and body chemistry plays in alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, ADHD and a variety of other common psychological ailments. In 2001, for example, Fairbanks was the lead author of a research paper published in Neuropsychopharmacology. That research, involving vervet monkeys, linked abnormal serotonin activity to poor impulse control and aggression in the monkeys.

What sort of sick, greedy person would want to better understand the role that brain chemistry plays in human behavior, especially abnormal or harmful human behavior?


Protest held for primate liberation. Lee Bialik, Daily Bruin, October 5, 2004.

Monkeys, rats shed light on roots of impulsivity. Crime Times, V.7, No.3, 2001.

University of Pittsburgh Disputes Claims by Stop Animal Exploitation Now

The University of Pittsburgh this month accused Stop Animal Exploitation Now of twisting the facts to make it appear as if the university had a poor animal welfare record.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now released a report, Breaking the Law: Animal Care in U.S. Labs, which ranked the University of Pittsburgh as having the ninth highest number of violations of animal welfare laws among the 25 laboratories that the group examined. According to The Pitt News,

Michael Budkie, executive director of SAEN and author of the report, said information gathered from USDA inspection reports [of the University of Pittsburgh’s facilities] described violations that included the use of expired drugs, housing of 35-inch primates in 32-inch cages and unnecessary isolation of disease-free primates, among others.

Budkie also cited a 2003 USDA report that technicians monitoring primates that were part of an experiment involving controlling the water intake of four primates failed to recognize “rudimentary signs of dehydration.” The USDA report noted that the University corrected the problem as soon as it was made aware of it.

Dr. Randy Juhl, vice chancellor of research conduct and compliance at the University of Pittsburgh, told The Pitt News that SAEN was taking the facts out of context, noting that most of the information found in the SAEN report were gathered from the University’s own reports on its animal welfare compliance,

This is a good example of how an organization can use a little fact and twist it to serve their particular purpose.

[SAEN’s] goal is to have no animal experimentations. Our goal is to have animal experimentations within the rules and regulation to make medical advances.

. . .

If you count the little violations, 27 [over a three year period] is not a number that concerns me at all, considering there are 1,000 people working on these things. We don’t consider [the violations [trivial]. We take care of them and fix them.

According to SAEN’s report, during that three year period, the University of Pittsburgh housed 2,341 regulated animals.


Animal treatment in labs up to par, Pitt says. Brenda Miller, The Pitt News, June 2, 2004.