Inspection report: Attending veterinarian and adequate veterinary care, housing facilities, environment enhancement and feeding

As required by their enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), veterinary medical officers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regularly conduct routine inspections of facilities that house animals for research. In November 2016, the USDA conducted a routine review of animals and animal facilities managed by the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (referred to as the “Graduate School” in the linked inspection report) and College of Letters and Science. Each hosts a broad range of research and training projects that involve animals covered by the AWA. The programs include many laboratories and animal housing facilities, as well as many scientists, animal care, veterinary and research staff.

After reviewing the facilities and records, USDA issued five citations.

For more information on the inspection, contact Allyson J. Bennett, faculty director of the UW–Madison Animal Program.

USDA citations

1.9 C.F.R. § 2.33 (b)(2)

All medications used for animal care are to be checked to ensure that expired medications are disposed of and replaced. USDA inspectors found two bottles of expired medication. No adverse effects resulted from the use of expired medications, but a citation was issued. Researchers, lab managers, and animal care staff are working on changes in drug inventory management to prevent the use of expired medication and supplies.

1.9 C.F.R. § 2.38 (f)(1)

As part of research and routine care for monkeys, UW–Madison animal care staff transfer monkeys from one enclosure to another for many reasons, such as cleaning and maintenance of animal surroundings and enrichment equipment, exams and care from veterinarians, and participation in research projects. On rare occasions, individual animals exit their primary enclosures during transfers, and must be recovered from within the room in which the transfer was taking place. Similarly, there are rare occasions when equipment failures result in monkeys leaving their home enclosure. In every case, the animals remain within their housing room and within a secure, contained area.

USDA inspectors reviewing records of animal care from January to November of 2016 noted that monkeys exited their enclosures due to staff or equipment errors. During 4 such incidents, the monkeys’ interactions with other monkeys still in their enclosures resulted in injuries to animals that required medical treatment.

According to the USDA inspectors, the injured monkeys received proper care promptly and fully recovered.

While the rate at which monkeys exit their enclosures is small, the USDA and UW–Madison expect better. The university and its staff care deeply about injuries to animals and strive to minimize the potential for errors. A working group with expertise in industrial and systems engineering, primate behavior, psychology, staff training and assessment, animal husbandry and veterinary care is working to review incidents and identify contributing factors and evaluate equipment, procedures, training, personnel and policy. They will recommend improvements to reduce the risk and incidence of animals leaving their primary enclosures.

1.9 C.F.R. § 3.75 (e)

Monkeys cared for at UW–Madison are provided with dietary enrichment and a variety of food for their enjoyment and stimulation and to promote their health. The research facilities have dedicated kitchens that store fresh vegetables and fruits and prepare treats — including frozen blocks of juice and nuts similar to popsicles. It is important for these snacks to be both nutritious and clean.

USDA officers were inspecting a UW–Madison facility when treats were being made for monkeys. Some juice had spilled on the bottom of a freezer and was partially frozen into slush. The inspector noted the slush in the inspection report as a “gelatinous liquid” in the freezer, and pointed out the importance of storing food in a manner that prevents contamination and spoilage.

None of the spilled liquid was — or would have been — fed to an animal. Nor was the liquid in contact with popsicle treats on the upper shelves of the freezer or any other food items. However, USDA inspectors issued a citation for not storing food supplies in a manner that prevents contamination, and directed UW–Madison to correct the conditions by Nov. 9, 2016. The old freezer was replaced before Nov. 9 with one that makes cleaning easier and freezes food faster.

1.9 C.F.R. § 3.81 (a)(3)

UW–Madison animal care and research staff make extensive efforts to house Rhesus macaque monkeys in social groups. Behaviorists, veterinarians, and animal care staff work together to monitor those social groups for signs of incompatibility. Despite vigilance and management of social groups, there are occasional injuries from aggression between monkeys.

On Dec. 28, 2016, a monkey was found dead in its social group housing of injuries inflicted by an older monkey. The dead monkey was already recovering from injuries acquired in a Dec. 24 altercation with the older animal — injuries for which the monkey had received prompt and responsive treatment by a veterinarian. The veterinarian had returned the animal to its social group after treatment, a decision that weighed risk of further injury against the risk of housing the animal without its partners.

After the initial injuries, the animal was observed daily by caretakers and others, none of whom noted additional aggression, injury, or cause for removing the animal from its group. Nonetheless, on Dec. 28 the animal died. USDA inspectors issued a citation because they disagreed with the veterinarian’s assessment, and believed the injuries the monkey received Dec. 24 provided enough evidence of incompatibility to preclude the animal’s return to social housing.

1.9 C.F.R. § 3.129 (a)

On Jan. 25, 2016, UW–Madison staff found a dead mouse in a laboratory cage. Another mouse living in the shared cage was found to be weak and unhealthy, and was euthanized. Records revealed the food containers for the mice had not been refilled properly. The laboratory had not previously experienced any similar incidents.

The unfortunate loss of the mice led to retraining of lab workers, more frequent monitoring of the animals in the lab by campus animal care, more stringent record-keeping requirements, and an agreement to add additional staff to the lab.

View the inspection report (PDF)