Animal dealer and research facility Santa Cruz Biotechnology (SCBT), which has been cited for gross animal welfare violations, particularly in regards to its care and treatment of hundreds of goats, will soon face penalties outlined in a 2012 complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). SCBT, one of the world’s largest suppliers of goat antibodies, is alleged to have “willfully” violated the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) 78 times from 2007-2012. A hearing date is scheduled for July 14. USDA must hold SCBT accountable for these violations to the fullest extent of the law!
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) typically inspects animal facilities once or twice per year, but SCBT was inspected nine times in 2012 alone. Reports documented that many goats were so thin that they had “protruding hips, ribs, and spinal processes,” while others suffered from broken legs, as well as various skin conditions, hair loss, nasal discharge, respiratory problems, and anemia. In one account, a goat who could not stand was found lying down with food placed just out of reach. When offered food by the inspector, the goat willingly ate. Another, with a painful broken leg, had lost his/her cast and went untreated for three days because the veterinarian “had not had time to attend to the goat.” Another goat apparently was kept alive for three weeks after a veterinarian recommended euthanasia.
Despite these painful conditions, SCBT continued to collect blood from injured and sick animals to harvest antibodies, further exacerbating the suffering of those who were already experiencing physical and mental anguish. USDA inspection reports noted that “Continuing to use these animals for antibody production with their history of medical conditions caused them unnecessary discomfort, distress, and pain,” and that “Animals with chronic and significant medical conditions are not suitable subjects for antibody production.”
Despite this mountain of welfare violations, perhaps the most blatant were documented on October 31, 2012, when USDA discovered a barn housing 841 goats. This site had been in operation for at least two and a half years, but when asked directly during inspections, SCBT staff allegedly denied its existence. The AWA clearly states that “a licensee…shall not interfere with…any APHIS official in the course of carrying out his or her duties,” and that every research facility must allow officials to “inspect the facilities, property, and animals, as the APHIS officials consider necessary to enforce the provisions of the Act….”
The accumulation of these violations clearly points to SCBT’s inability to operate within the law, much less provide adequate care and treatment for animals at its facilities. If possible, the USDA Secretary should use his discretion and revoke the Class B dealer license of Santa Cruz Biotechnology or, at the very least, levy the stiffest penalties possible.
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