A San Rafael-based animal protection organization is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to further investigate UC Davis’ treatment of animals undergoing lengthy procedures under general anesthesia.
The complaint by In Defense of Animals is based on the results of a June 5 report based on a routine USDA inspection of records in the office of the campus’ Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.
Twenty-three animals underwent procedures intended to last up to 36 hours, the group says. In 14 cases, UCD failed to monitor oxygen saturation. In one case, an animal undergoing a 27-hour procedure went nine hours without heart monitoring.
One animal was left at a body temperature of 87.3 degrees for more than five hours, when UCD protocols call for maintaining a body temperature of 96.8 to 98.6 degrees.
Other reports of elevated heart rates or carbon dioxide levels indicated inadequate anesthesia, the advocacy group says.
One animal’s heart rate was elevated for more than five hours without intervention. Six animals experienced elevated carbon dioxide levels “for significant periods,” according to the USDA, without an increase in anesthesia.
“These serious failings demonstrate a lack of the most basic veterinary protocols for sound monitoring of live animals under anesthesia,” said Barbara Stagno, program director for the IDA’s Responsible Research Campaign.
“UCD’s carelessness undoubtedly placed these animals’ welfare in danger and caused them to experience unnecessary pain and distress that may have been significant.”
UCD said the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and veterinary staff had reviewed the inspection reports.
“The animals in question were under general anesthesia, and therefore our veterinarians are confident that the animals were not in distress or experiencing pain,” said UCD spokeswoman Pat Bailey. “UC Davis takes the welfare of our animals very seriously and continuously strives for the highest level of animal care.”
UCD did not identify what lab animal species were involved or where the procedures took place, except to say that they were not primates.
Bailey said the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare commended the campus for its animal care in June.
IDA emphasized that animal care at UCD has been found lacking in the past.
In February, the USDA cited the California National Primate Center at UCD for failure to provide adequate care in the deaths of 19 monkeys during 2009 and 2010. The citation did not carry a fine. The USDA last fined the center in 2005.
— Reach Cory Golden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden