AVMA responds to alleged animal-welfare concerns at federal research facility

(Update: The letter mentioned in this post was delivered Jan. 26 to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.)

American Veterinary Medical Association President Dr. Ted Cohn issued the following statement today in response to a New York Times report detailing alleged instances of substandard animal-welfare conditions at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb. The facility is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

LetterThumbThe American Veterinary Medical Association is deeply concerned about what is depicted in The New York Times article. We urge the USDA to fully investigate and take appropriate actions to ensure that the animals used for research at the facility are treated humanely in accordance with best animal-care practices,” Dr. Cohn said. “The AVMA believes that two approaches will help ensure good animal welfare in the future. First, ensure that veterinarians on-site at the facility have the necessary authority to ensure responsible animal care. And second, the Clay research center should request voluntary inspection by the Animal Care unit of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which is responsible for Animal Welfare Act enforcement.

“The AVMA is in the process of drafting a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack sharing our policy on the Use of Animals in Research, Testing, and Education, expressing our concerns about the alleged conditions at the research center and suggesting potential solutions to help ensure the good health and welfare of the animals at this facility.”

8 thoughts on “AVMA responds to alleged animal-welfare concerns at federal research facility

  1. I spent four weeks at US MARC in 2009-2010 as a food animal intern. I can say that not once in that time did I see any thing that would remotely be considered animal abuse. In fact, the veterinarians that I worked with were extremely dedicated to ensuring that these animals were treated as well as possible.
    The situations that this so called “source” is describing, such as extracting calves with tools and lambing on open range, are everyday occurrences on ranches across the country, in fact, I as a large animal veterinarian have pulled many calves with “tools”. This story that is presented is extremely sensationalized, doing exactly what the reporter intended, getting people all worked up without asking any questions. How is it that this “source” was able to work there for 25 years if this was supposedly occurring. He sure didn’t have a problem collecting a paycheck for 25 years…just my two cents.

  2. As a newcomer to the veterinary field, I am saddened by reading this but am not surprised. It sounds to me that MARC doesn’t seem interested in the welfare of these animals one bit. All this facility is focusing on is the end game and finding ways to reduce costs. Once again, an example where money trumps morals & ethics. I truly hope an investigation is underway. I also think this place, at the very least, be put on probation until new policies are implemented; ensuring that these animals are getting the quality care they deserve.

  3. I want to express my deep concern about the ongoing severe abuse of animals at the Meat Animal Research Facility (MARC) in Nebraska. As a student of veterinary medicine at KSU many years ago I was required to spend a week at the MARC as part of my education or I could not obtain my DVM degree. I spent 5 days there and I witnessed a calf being cut apart that was still alive because it had not been properly euthanized. It was a horrible experience that I have never forgotten. I complained to the MSRC as well as to KSU. I was told that it was an unfortunate occurance and efforts would be made to prevent something like that from happening again. I have never forgotten. I hoped that it was an isolated event. The abuse and torture of animals needs to stop. The voices of many concerned veterinarians, students and others have been ignored. Most veterinarians strive to promote animal welfare. Our voices need to be heard. Any veterinarian that believes this kind of animal abuse is excetable is not a part of the majority of this profession and should have their morals and ethics reviewed by the AVMA and actions taken against them. They are obviously not following the veterinary oath. We need to be a voice against animal abuse. I hope the AVMA, KSU and other veterinary organizations and animal welfare groups will work diligently to resolve the severe concerns at MARC.

  4. This situation makes me very sad. As a student in the (early) 2000’s I did an externship in Clay Center. While by far not involved in all the activities at the center, or even seeing all the animals, I learned very valuable things from people I still respect. For me Clay Center was a wonderful resource, I learned about the importance of Trich testing and TB testing animals, teaching videos were provided, books and experts were available to me. There was great potential for this facility, I only wish all the other students/technicians/staff/scientists and animals could have had as enriching an experience as I did.

  5. How could this been going on for over 25 years and we are just finding about the atrocities? I am hopeful that the AVMA will be able to get action taken to correct the problem. But I agree with the other posts, that the place needs to be shut down until the humane care of these animals can be guaranteed.

  6. Judging by the article in the NYT, it would not seem that this facility can be reformed. One might as well try to reform the Island of Dr. Moreau. The intent of the facility is obscene. The scientists deserve to be devoured by their own creation. This sordid blight on the face of Nebraska should be permanently shuttered. And I haven’t even mentioned the awesome waste of money!

  7. I really hope something is done about this federal research facility. I really hope it is shut down!