An animal rights group called Stop Animal Exploitation Now has filed a federal complaint with the US Department of Agriculture against Johns Hopkins scientists for failed surgeries that led to euthanasia of nine dogs, the Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday (August 13).
The Ohio-based group refers to a letter that Hopkins researchers sent to the National Institutes of Health about the termination of federally funded research on spinal cord stimulation as a treatment for a gastrointestinal disorder called gastroparesis. In 2017 and 2018, the researchers had planned surgeries on 19 dogs. Nine experienced complications, which resulted in euthanizing them for humane reasons, according to the Sun.
It is not the first complaint the group has filed against the university. In February, it sent a complaint to the USDA about a marmoset that was crushed in a cage door. After an inspection by the USDA, the agency cited the lab for “unqualified personnel.”
“It is quite clear that something is rotten at Johns Hopkins University,” Michael Budkie, cofounder of the animal rights group, tells the Sun. “Causing paralysis in dogs and crushing a marmoset monkey in a cage door are not only immensely cruel, but these incidents also clearly demonstrate that bungling JHU staff is unqualified.”
In the federal complaint, the animal rights group says Hopkins researchers violated the Animal Welfare Act, and it seeks $10,000—the maximum penalty—for each harmed dog.
“The care of animals involved in our research is incredibly important to us,” Kim Hoppe, a spokeswoman for Hopkins, says in a statement, according to the Sun. “We rigorously adhere to all state and federal animal welfare requirements and guidelines, including closely monitoring all animal research and providing regular reports to government agencies that oversee such research.”
She notes that the university obeys USDA regulations and other government and institutional guidelines and policies and that it reported the incident to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare. After the study ended, she adds, the remaining dogs were adopted.
Ashley Yeager is an associate editor at The Scientist. Email her at email@example.com.