On Sep. 1, The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) requested a state audit of the University of Connecticut’s animal experimental activities following the closure of UConn and its animal research laboratories in March.
In the letter to State Auditor John C. Geragosian, PETA questioned if UConn’s directives to ramp down “all on-campus research activities” in March led to the euthanasia of animals deemed “noncritical” to UConn research activities. It also questioned whether the university was wasting state funds on animal experimentation that was ultimately postponed or canceled.
“UConn’s experiments on animals were undoubtedly cruel, and apparently not even the school can justify them,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala in a press release. “PETA is calling on state officials to follow the money and prevent taxpayer waste—and animal suffering—in laboratories that should never have received funding in the first place.”
PETA requested in the letter that the state office investigate UConn’s use of $357 million in state funds toward animal research activities and the possibility that the university euthanized hundreds of animals in March.
“Based on this information, we urge your office to assess the use of public money, personnel, property, equipment, and space by UConn for activities supporting experiments on animals that it deems unnecessary, extraneous, nonessential, or noncritical or describes using similar terminology,” the letter stated.
PETA then requested that if the state office found UConn to be wasting funds on animal experimentation that it found to be unnecessary, that the state then take corrective actions.
“If wastefulness is corroborated, we request that you take all corrective actions to ensure that current state-funded research activities involving such animals are permanently terminated, that new state-funded research activities that include such animals are no longer approved, and that the breeding and acquisition of such animals for state-funded research activities are prohibited,” the letter stated.
University Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz maintained that UConn researchers were not directed to euthanize animals used in experimentation or otherwise, and the rapid ramp-down of university research activities was solely to comply with state requirements to decrease population density on campus and on site.
“The procedures put in place for research allowed for the orderly but rapid ramp-down of research activities, including quickly completing active experiments, not starting new experiments, and not ordering or breeding animals,” Reitz said. “This allowed animal numbers to fall to levels that would maintain important research infrastructure, but allow research to be ramped up in the future…Researchers were not directed or expected to euthanize animals.”
Reitz continued that the procedures put in place both “ensured appropriate care of animal colonies” and “through the halt on ordering or breeding animals, it prevented the number from increasing.”
Finally, Reitz emphasized that the procedures would allow for an immediate resumption of research in May.
“Although research activities were put on hold in March, these procedures positioned the university to begin to resume research activities immediately following the state’s phase one reopening on May 20,” Reitz said.