News 12 First at Five/ December 17, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- We're learning new details by the day about allegations concerning research animals at GRU. Undercover video of dogs in a dental research facility at GRU sparked an outcry in Augusta, leading to protests and demands for change.
Now, new video from the Humane Society of the US shows rhesus monkeys in a GRU lab displaying a lot of signs of stress. One pulls out his hair and eats it, others pace and jump around in circles, and others have sores from scratching and pulling their hair out, Those are all signs of severe stress according to the Humane Society of the US.
They also say GRU violated the Animal Welfare Act by keeping at least 50 primates isolated in cages and not allowing them to socialize.
Late Tuesday afternoon, HSUS released even more footage, allegedly taken from inside the labs, that showed mice in disturbing conditions.
Video was recorded of research mice in overcrowded cages, many with open wounds, and several cages are full of feces.
Donna Caviston worked as a surgical tech for a veterinarian for 14 years, and she's seen firsthand what it looks like for an animal to be mistreated.
Caviston says, "I've always loved animals. Now, I work with rescue groups and take one animal in at a time that's in really bad shape, and just rehab them, and then we find homes for them."
After the allegations started pouring in about dog testing, she helped organize some of the protests locally.
"There's a lot of people getting involved in this, and there's more and more everyday. I don't see this dying out until something is done to satisfy both sides," she says.
But, so far, the Humane Society of th US says GRU has not returned their requests for a meeting. GRU released a statement saying,
"Research involving non-human primates is strictly regulated and those regulations are rigorously enforced to ensure humane treatment. Georgia Regents University is inspected annually by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act are certainly a focus of those inspections.
The GRU Internal Animal Care and Use Committee also inspects sites where non-human primates are housed twice a year.
Additionally, GRU voluntarily submits itself for accreditation and review by the Association for the Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International, which is not required by the AWA. The university currently holds AAALAC international accreditation and has maintained consistent accreditation for more than 30 years."
But, for animal lovers like Caviston, the video says it all.
"I know that we have to have animal studies, but we can be humane about it too," she says.
We've also learned the USDA is planning a trip to GRU to take a closer look at the allegations. They won't comment on when that trip will take place, but we'll keep you posted.