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Editorial: Allegations against ABQ animal lab cite deadly pattern

“LRRI appears to have suffocated one monkey and starved another. These are only the latest of the negligent serial deaths. The staff of this facility are overworked and unqualified. It is a wonder that even more deaths haven’t occurred.”

– Michael A. Budkie, Stop Animal Exploitation Now

Whether you support or decry animal testing, the latest allegations of deadly animal mistreatment at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute are beyond disturbing.

That’s because these appear to amount to simply ignoring not only federal protocols but also basic empathy for another living being. And because this is not the first time the institute has been accused of cruel, preventable deaths – prior allegations have been upheld and resulted in fines.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Stop Animal Exploitation Now have filed complaints with federal agencies against the institute (which is not affiliated with Lovelace Health System). PETA wants the National Institutes of Health to withdraw its approval that allows the institute to get federal contracts and grants. Ohio-based Stop wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate and prosecute the lab.

At issue is a Nov. 19 USDA inspection into the deaths of two 2½-year-old male cynomolgus macaque monkeys. One died unexpectedly during a face-mask inhalation procedure. PETA maintains the monkey was not properly monitored, the chair arm restraints were too large so animals could become entangled in the equipment and a full necropsy was not conducted as per the study’s protocol. The other was found dead in the cage where he was held with five noncompatible, male monkeys, and the necropsy cites “marked dehydration, little to no visceral fat, and an overall thin body condition.” PETA says the USDA report suggests he may not have been allowed access to food or water.

In the controversial world of animal testing there is zero room for such carelessness. Lovelace Respiratory Institute has been fined before for needless monkey deaths, and if these allegations hold up, the pattern and practice should mean one less place where animal testing is conducted.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.