University of Pittsburgh
May 26, 2017

Lab Animal Agency Finds Compliance with Care Standards

USDA annual inspection also finds full compliance

Joe Miksch


Cell: 412-997-0314

PITTSBURGH—The Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), responding to a complaint filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), has found their allegations against the University of Pittsburgh unsubstantiated, and that institutional responses to routine care needs were appropriate.

OLAW’s decision was provided to the University on May 22. OLAW is a branch of the National Institutes of Health Office of Extramural Research that provides guidance and interpretation of the Public Health Service Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

The complaint was lodged by a PETA supporter who had found employment at the John G. Rangos, Sr. Research Center in order to conduct a “sting” operation. The PETA supporter worked at the University from September 2016 to February 2017.

OLAW accepted the University’s assertion that, “in a few situations, the adverse activity occurred due to direct action/inaction of the [PETA] informant. Some allegations were made by the [PETA] informant but could not be corroborated because they were not reported or documented elsewhere.” The University’s response to OLAW can be found here in the sections headed “response.”

One item the University was asked to address regarded its use of carbon dioxide to euthanize mice. The University had been operating under the premise that the use of more carbon dioxide to speed euthanization was the most humane process. OLAW asked that the University use less carbon dioxide, as suggested by the American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines.

The investigation is now closed as OLAW finds “the institutional responses to the identified problems to be appropriate and in compliance with the provisions of the PHS (Public Health Service) policy.”

Additionally, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) performed its regular annual inspection of the University’s animal facilities during the week of May 15 and found the University to be in compliance with its rules.

The finding of compliance follows a similar conclusion by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which conducted a four-day focused inspection of animal research laboratory spaces at the University in February in response to the same complaint.

The University was found in full compliance with the Animal Welfare Act and USDA regulations. View the report.

The University’s animal research program has led to a number of breakthroughs in medical care, and the University of Pittsburgh is committed to the highest standards of care for all research animals. This is evidenced by the University’s voluntary participation in the accreditation program of the international Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care and the efforts of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, husbandry staff members and researchers who work to ensure that animals are treated as humanely as possible.

The University follows the provisions of the “Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals,” an internationally recognized standard for care. Educational use of animals at the University of Pittsburgh complies with all applicable laws and voluntary accreditation standards. The programs and facilities at the University are USDA registered and covered under an Animal Welfare Assurance with the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. The University remains committed to the humane care and use of all animals within the context of the advancement of science and medicine.