The animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now! (SAEN) is accusing UC Davis of a cover-up.
SAEN claims that public documents from UC Davis regarding primate mistreatment at the California National Primate Research Center were incorrect.
After finding an inconsistency in the reports made by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the one SAEN was given, SAEN executive director Michael Budkie filed a complaint with the Department of Justice.
“I can only assume that the staff of the University of California, Davis intentionally withheld information from me in an effort to conceal potentially illegal behavior,” Budkie said in an e-mail to the California Justice Department. “This illegal behavior could have led to punitive action by the United States Department of Agriculture, such as a fine.”
The inconsistencies in the reports are in regard to one monkey. In the USDA report it stated that the monkey was treated multiple times for vomiting, but this was not included in the report that Budkie received, which led him to believe there is foul play at hand.
According to USDA records, the monkey was sedated 15 times between the third and fourth research studies, primarily for treatment of trauma. Vomiting was reported 10 times.
Andy Fell, UC Davis spokesperson, denies any cover-up in the report.
“UC Davis always follows the California Public Records Act and the Federal Public Records Act. The only information that is ever redacted is specific names of researchers for privacy, never animal information,” he said.
Fell explained that SAEN opposes all animal research, calling them an extreme animal rights group.
“They like to frame themselves as a watchdog group, when in actuality their aim is to end all animal research. If there is any inconsistency in information it is because Budkie did not request the right information.”
Budkie asserts that there was an animal injured 15 times, but Fell explained that the animal was actually just addressed for an injury 15 times.
California state law allows organizations to make requests for any public information under the California Public Records Act.
“Animal research is a great responsibility that we take very seriously,” Fell said. “If the animals are unhealthy we can’t do useful research with them. We make sure they are well looked after. We have 25 to 40 inspectors come each year to make sure we are doing everything correctly.”
The USDA has not yet ruled on UC Davis’ appeal on the noncompliant issues. A letter appealing the decision was submitted in July 2010.
A graphic SAEN commercial aired Tuesday on CNN, Fox News, MNBC and Animal Planet, calling the research at many UC centers, “not science … but torture.”
ANDY VERDEROSA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.