Augusta, Ga (Kelly Jasper) – The United States Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare has found no evidence to support the Humane Society of the United States’ allegations that animals are used or cared for inappropriately in research at Georgia Regents University.
“OLAW commends the prompt and thorough response taken by the IACUC [the university’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee] in addressing this matter. We hereby close this investigation and will inform the HSUS that the allegations could not be substantiated and that no further action will be taken,” Axel Wolff, Director of the Division of Compliance Oversight, wrote in a Feb. 11 letter to the university.
The agency, part of the National Institutes of Health, is tasked with overseeing the care and use of laboratory animals and monitors compliance with the Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals to ensure the humane care and use of animals in research, testing, and training.
Last year, GRU researchers tested a new coating for dental implants that could help prevent dangerous infections in the gums and bones of the mouth. OLAW concluded that the research was performed under approved protocols and the dogs in the study received proper veterinary care. OLAW specifically addressed concerns about a dog which lost weight during acclimation and a dog with skin lesions and a licking sore.
“OLAW concurs with the actions taken by the veterinary staff and IACUC as described and finds them to be compliant with the PHS [Public Health Service] Policy and the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals,” Wolff wrote.
The review of GRU’s policies and procedures also included: the housing of nonhuman primates; behavior and enrichment policies for primates; the number of staff involved in animal care; a training program for employees involved in animal care; training for IACUC members; policies to combat overcrowding in rodent cages; cleaning procedures for rodent cages; policies for reporting aggression among rodents; facility inspections; and veterinary staff’s response to animal injuries, including the specific treatment of animals cited in HSUS allegations.
In addition, OLAW confirmed policies and procedures are in place to allow individuals to report animal welfare concerns and to prevent reprisal against whistle blowers.