WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - An animal rights non-profit that focuses on advocating for laboratory animals has filed a federal complaint against Purdue University. Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! claims the research team was negligent as it carried out experiments on four dogs and is looking for justice.
Three dogs were euthanized and a fourth was severely injured as a result of a research experiment.
"We primarily work with documents we obtain from the federal government to expose to the general public the abuse of animals in laboratories, while at the same time forcing the laboratories to change," said Michael Budkie, Co-Founder of SAEN.
Purdue filed its report of the incident with the Office of Animal Welfare in March of this year. It explained how an experiment with the GI drug Omeprazole went wrong. It's unclear if the research being done at Purdue had an end goal of developing a drug for humans or for animals.
Click here to read the full report and SAEN's formal complaint.
"Before administering it to the dog, they did not check it for purity," said Budkie. "And as a result, three of the dogs developed kidney damage. After a few days of trying to treat the dogs they had to be euthanized."
According to the report, a fourth dog in the experiment was burned by an external heat source used to keep it warm.
"They actually had to remove tissue from a couple of places on the dog's body because the burns were that significant," he said.
Tim Doty, spokesperson for Purdue, sent us this statement:
"The university is deeply committed to the responsible conduct of research, including the protection of animals used in connection with research. The university received a report of unforeseen adverse events involving research animals in February. Purdue’s laboratory animal program investigated the matter immediately, working with the research teams to identify the reasons for the adverse events and prevent recurrence. The university self-reported the results of the investigation to federal agencies in March and stands ready to assist those agencies in any way necessary to protect the welfare of the animals under its care."
Budkie said he is used to getting such statement from the organizations they file complaints about. He said research institutions are required to report such instance of malpractice in order to keep federal funding. He also added that even though they have self-reported, the university needs to take more responsibility for what happened to the dogs.
"We have filed an official complaint with the USDA because these animals were not monitored sufficiently, they were not handled correctly, and that potentially violates the Animal Welfare Act," he said.
Budkie said Purdue could get a fine of up to $10,000 dollars per infraction, per animal. However he says monetary justice isn't the only end goal.
"We want to raise public awareness about what happens in laboratories," he said. "Too often the general public believes that everything is ok within laboratories, the regulations are followed and there is nothing wrong."
He also said if proper procedures aren't followed during research on drugs for health, it could lead to the development of a bad drug that could end up having harmful effects in the future. He also hopes they can encourage laboratories to use other methods of testing other than on animals, especially in the case of developing drugs for humans, since the anatomies and body functions are different between humans and animals.
Budkie said this is just the beginning of a potentially long investigation and litigation period before any results are made. Click here to learn more about SAEN.