FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 6, 2012
VANCOUVER, BC – A blog created by a University of British Columbia (UBC) student involved in animal research at the university claims that mice and rats at UBC are routinely mishandled by inadequately trained technicians and are subjected to unnecessary pain and suffering. The blog, “Of Mice and Men,” includes graphic photos of mice with lesions, wounds, and abscesses and provides reports of animals who were dehydrated, starving, and extremely stressed. The blogger also noted nearly 1,400 rats and mice are disposed of every month because of space limitations and to save money. Stop UBC Animal Research said the blogger’s claims are serious enough to warrant an immediate investigation.
“This student accounts some grim details he/she says they witnessed while at UBC,” said Brian Vincent, Director of Stop UBC Animal Research. “The issues raised on the blog should certainly be investigated.”
The blogger, who worked as a technician with mice in a UBC lab, reports the following:
*Older and “phenotypically undesirable” rats and mice were “culled” for “economic conservation and spatial liberation.” The blogger reports nearly 1,400 rats and mice were “disposed of” every month.
*Lab technicians were not provided adequate training. The blogger reports: “Inexperienced technician mishandled and allowed a wild-derived mouse to escape its cage, then in frantic attempt to capture them ended up seriously injuring the animal by smashing its neck and limbs with the metal food hopper.”
*Lab technicians lacked relevant knowledge of animals they were handling. According to the blog: ”New technicians often not given instructions or recommended to acquire knowledge regarding strain specific anatomy, physiology, behavior, and special care that research mice require …Technicians unable to resolve unexpected animal emergencies . Example: Seizure-prone mice that needed to be gently and quietly handled were exposed to light and movement too quickly upon cage changing and in several cases died immediately after an episode.”
*Animals suffered from pain, wounds, dehydration, stress, and starvation. The blog reports:
1) ”Mice are small prey mammals that conceal their discomfort from sickness and injury well to prevent predation, so quick health checks on each cage often resulted in neglect to minor but significant changes in animals’ health.”
2) “Dehydrated and/or starving mice that have lost >10% body weight because of malocclusion, wounded mice with deep raw lesions from dermatitis and/or fights, or mice that have been dead for more than 48 hours.”
3) “One female could not flee from the aggressive pursuit of male and ended up biting the male’s genitals off in anxiety.”
4) “Pathological effects such as running around in the typical figure-8 pattern, and flipping up and down the metal food hoppers.”
5) “Principle investigator was so keen on saving a litter of transgenic mice pups that could contribute greatly to their studies that he/she instructed the technicians to keep the conspicuously deteriorating diabetic breeder female until weaning date.”
“UBC’s public relations team is trying to paint a pretty and rosy portrait of animal research at the university. But reports from someone who worked inside one of UBC’s labs seems to paint a very different, troubling picture,” said Vincent.
CONTACT: Brian Vincent, firstname.lastname@example.org