Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Physicians Committee Accuses University of Washington of Cruelty to Ferrets

I live in Seattle and I am always skeptical of how the UW treats its lab animals. I had never heard of the use of ferrets in medical research though. News to me.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine claims these are unnecessary procedures, even though the ferrets are apparently anesthesized during the process.

Full story in the Seattle Times.
A national physicians group has filed a federal complaint against the University of Washington, saying its use of ferrets to train medical residents in emergency procedures on babies and children violates a federal animal-welfare law.

The residents, who are learning to insert breathing tubes in premature infants, practice on anesthetized ferrets, confirmed Dr. Dennis Mayock, a professor of pediatrics and medical director of the UW's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The complaining group, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, based in Washington, D.C., says only about 13 percent of the pediatric-residency programs in the United States use animals for such training.

The UW is "using an educational method that, in our view, is not justifiable," said Dr. John Pippin, a Dallas cardiologist who helped write the complaint....

The UW has been cited in the past for deficiencies in animal research, including allowing a monkey to starve in 2009. In 2008, it had to return $20,000 in federal research grant money after a finding that it had allowed unauthorized surgeries on primates. Inspectors found serious deficiencies in animal-care facilities in 2006 and put the UW on probation.

Since then, however, the UW has spent millions to upgrade animal-care facilities and is now fully accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, hospital spokeswoman Tina Mankowski said.

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