Judge denies PETA complaint

On Oct. 12, a Dane County Circuit Court judge dismissed a petition from PETA that sought criminal charges against dedicated and respected members of UW–Madison’s scientific community. The anti-animal research group initially complained to the Dane County district attorney, alleging violations of a state animal welfare statute that permits animal research.

The DA declined to issue charges based on his conclusion that he could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt given the information available to him from both PETA and UW–Madison, according to the judge’s decision. After reviewing the petition and evidence gathered by the DA following a visit to a research center at UW–Madison, the Judge agreed with the DA’s position and denied PETA’s request.

While the university is pleased with the outcome, the institution remains deeply concerned that valuable UW–Madison employees had to endure the threat of criminal prosecution for more than a year. UW–Madison supports its researchers engaged in important, life-saving work. Animal research is highly regulated, with strong ethical guidelines, laws, and regulations in place to protect animal welfare. Federal agencies enforce those rules through oversight — including regular, unscheduled inspections.

UW–Madison, its researchers, and its skilled veterinarians remain committed to responsible and ethical studies of animals when they present the best opportunity to learn more about the complex biology of living organisms and develop new ways to treat and prevent disease — diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. It would be unethical to ignore those opportunities to prevent so much suffering among humans and animals.