University lab cleared to continue cat research
Federal investigators looked into claims of animal mistreatment by UW-Madison
Federal investigators say the University of Wisconsin is cleared to continue a research study involving cats after the lab made some changes in protocol following complaints that animals were being mistreated.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the federal Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, a division of the National Institutes of Health, found that even though complaints from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals did not accurately reflect the research condition of the cats, the lab made changes to "enhance the care of the animals and potentially improve research outcomes."
Eric Sandgren, the university's animal research oversight director, said none of PETA's allegations were substantiated.
"They were wrong on every count," he said.
Justin Goodman, director of laboratory investigations for PETA, said he disagreed with the report's conclusions and said major animal welfare violations were downplayed.
Federal officials found that while cats generally were treated according to industry standards, there had been a recurring issue of infection related to head caps, eye coils and ear coils. Eleven cats had been treated for chronic infections in early stages of the study, the report said, but investigators found no sign of infection in nine cats on site when they visited.
University officials promised to make changes in how equipment is sanitized. They also agreed that cats would play and socialize in a separate room. The NIH approved the changes in August, allowing the study to resume.
PETA vowed to keep a focus on cat research at the University of Wisconsin.
"This campaign is going to continue until that lab is empty and there are no cats in it," Goodman said.
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