(NaturalNews) Harvard Medical School has been fined just over $24,000 by the Department of Agriculture for violation of animal welfare at its research centers. The fine cites 11 violations, including the deaths of four monkeys, all taking place in under a year and a half, from February 2011 through July 2012.
The primate deaths were mainly due to lack of employee training. A series of long mistreatment investigations led to the findings and, ultimately, the fine. Below is a summary of how the four monkeys died.
Disturbing monkey death details
A monkey died of liver failure after a laboratory worker overdosed a monkey with anesthetic.
Two monkeys died after not receiving sufficient water. In one instance, a malfunctioning watering device went unnoticed by employees, resulting in a monkey who was so severely dehydrated that the animal had to be euthanized.
In another instance, workers had not given a monkey a water bottle. That animal also had to be euthanized.
One monkey died by strangulation after a toy which was attached to a chain caught around its neck.
Harvard's shocking reaction
Despite these awful deaths of innocent animals, Harvard Medical School offered a statement expressing their satisfaction of the fine, saying it is appropriate and that "[t]he leadership of the school cares deeply about upholding exemplary standards of care."
Indeed, it's understandable that the school would be content with their fine, as it's more of a mere "shame on you" dismissive penalty, compared to the one it could have faced. Apparently, officials could have fined them up to $10,000 per violation, slapping them with a $110,000 fine instead of a $24,000 slap on the wrist. Harvard went on to say in their statement that they feel the small fine is a reflection of the "excellent work of those members of our community who took aggressive action to institute rigorous quality improvements that benefit animal safety and welfare."
But Justin Goodman, a spokesman for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, feels that the fine is unsatisfactorily low and a cause for concern. "For an institution that receives $185 million annually in taxpayer funds alone, half of which is spent on animal experiments," he says, "a $24,000 fine for years of abusing and neglecting monkeys won't motivate Harvard to do better by animals."
Clearly, proper observation, management and overall treatment of the animals were not performed by the employees, a problem that Harvard has been addressing. In April 2013, the school announced plans to shut down its primate testing facility by 2015, noting efforts related to improving staff training and investing in resources to engage in better standards of care. Still, Harvard has a significantly smaller animal facility in the Boston area that houses 45 primates, which will still remain involved in laboratory testing.
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