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PETA accuses USU of euthanizing lab animals during the pandemic

A PETA protest outside of a Salt Lake City McDonald's on Aug 24th, 2009. (KSL TV)

LOGAN, Utah- People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals, commonly known as PETA,  is claiming universities allegedly went on a “euthanization binge” after the pandemic hit and Utah State University, USU, is one of the universities involved.   

Shalin Gala, the Vice President of International Laboratory Methods for PETA, says it’s likely “numerous animals have been killed [by USU] as a result of the need to reduce staffing for social distancing purposes and the high number of animals that need care.”  

PROOF FROM PETA 

The animal-rights organization hasn’t offered any proof of the “euthanization binge” yet.  Gala says they don’t have the veterinary records from the labs, so, they have no hard evidence yet. But they claim USU’s  Laboratory Animal Research Center’s online posts show euthanization was in their pandemic contingency plans. 

Gala reported, “according to [USU’s] epidemic response plan, they identified various categories at which they would take action.” Gala says at a certain level they would identify 20% of rat and mouse cages as “priority phase cages.” 

That means “the other 80% percent are not considered priority saves.”  At the next level, they start euthanizing non-critical rats and mice.  Next, according to Gala, they euthanize all other animals. 

USU RESPONSE TO PETA ACCUSATIONS

USU is denying the charges from PETA.

USU spokesperson Tim Vitale says their official statement is: “PETA’s press release is factually incorrect.  We have not suspended or ended any projects or protocols due to COVID 19.  We never designated any animal as non-essential, and no animal has been euthanized due to the pandemic.”

OTHER UNIVERSITIES ACCUSED 

This is a much wider accusation from PETA that goes far beyond just animal testing labs at USU. 

Gala says, “We have sent letters to more than 80 universities and research institutes that went on this binge.  They were ramping down their laboratories in a matter of weeks, and then, killing thousands of animals in the process.”  

The number of animals destroyed could be staggering, Gala claims. He says West Virginia University alone has said “on the record” “they have euthanized 18% of their rats and mice, and their lab at any time houses thousands upon thousands of animals.”

PETA WANTS AN AUDIT

PETA is seeking a state audit from the State of Utah. 

“[The audit] is to determine if any of the $220 million in state taxpayer dollars [to USU] has been wasted on cruel animal experiments. PETA is calling on state officials to follow the money and prevent taxpayer waste—and animal suffering—in laboratories that should never have received funding in the first place,” Gala said.