Suffering Swept Under the Rug: How Federal Oversight Is Failing Animals in Laboratories

In U.S. laboratories, animals have been starved, overdosed, and scalded to death as a result of experimenters’ negligence, incompetence, or outright disregard. The penalty they receive for committing such blatant wickedness? Typically, it’s a mere finger wagging from the federal government.

A PETA study found that institutions that violate federal animal welfare guidelines are rarely penalized. In a sampling of the top 25 institutions that receive funding from NIH and are therefore covered by the HREA, PETA found a whopping 632 violations in just a 41-month period.

In these hundreds of horrific incidents, animals were starved and dehydrated to death, were burned and severely injured due to staff negligence, suffered preventable amputations, and more. But much as mice play when the cat’s away, these institutions regularly act with impunity, repeating egregious abuses against animals without fear of retribution. Only in the most extreme and exceedingly rare cases will the institution lose its federal funding for committing abominable abuse.

For institutions that violate the AWA (Read: viciously torture animals), the government’s punishment of choice is typically a slapdash warning. Unsurprisingly, a review of the effectiveness of this punishment found that 40% of institutions that received warnings went on to commit six or more violations from January 2011 to March 2016.

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