University of Pittsburgh
August 31, 2017

University of Pittsburgh Statement on PETA's Latest Claims

Contact: 

Joe Miksch

412-624-4356

Cell: 412-997-0314

PITTSBURGH—Recent allegations from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in reaction to alleged abuse of laboratory mice and other animals is an extension of a campaign of misinformation about the University of Pittsburgh.

PETA continues to rely on footage and images recorded during a “sting” operation conducted by one of its supporters who worked in John G. Rangos Sr. Research Center from September 2016 through February 2017. The University was cleared of wrongdoing in relation to this “sting” by multiple national oversight agencies.

In February, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service conducted a four-day focused inspection of animal research spaces at the University. Pitt was found to be in full compliance with USDA regulations.

In May, the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare also found that PETA’s claims were unsubstantiated and that institutional responses to routine animal husbandry and veterinary care needs were appropriate.

In July, PETA made claims related to the University’s routine self-reporting of issues that arise in the housing and care of laboratory animals for the timespan dating from Jan. 1, 2015, to April 1, 2017. In all instances, corrective actions were promptly taken, and in all instances the National Institutes of Health, the agency with which the reports are filed, acknowledged that the University took proper remedial actions.

In its most recent claims, PETA contends that National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, in a 2013 blog post, called the use of mice in sepsis research inapplicable to treating the condition in humans (sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs). Rather Collins was referring to a particular NIH-funded study explaining why many drugs that fought sepsis in mice failed in humans, not the overall usefulness of using mice in research that can save human lives.

“That doesn’t mean studying mice is useless. There’s still much the mouse might teach us,” he wrote.

The University’s animal research program has led to a number of breakthroughs in medical care, including the polio vaccine and liver transplants. 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 AAALAC International accreditation process 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.

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