PETA seeking names of UConn animal researchers

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An animal advocacy group has gone to court to get the names of researchers at the University of Connecticut Health Center who were found to have violated federal guidelines for treating animals.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a lawsuit last week in New Britain Superior Court, appealing a November ruling by the state’s Freedom of Information Commission.

The commission found UConn properly redacted the names and grant numbers from documents it released to PETA under the state’s Freedom of Information law, saying the disclosure of the researchers’ identities could pose a risk to their personal safety.

The redacted documents were released in response to an October 2012 request for any correspondence between the health center and the National Institutes of Health “regarding animal welfare problems and potential noncompliance with federal animal welfare guidelines.”

“The public has a right to know when federal rules regarding the humane treatment of animals in taxpayer-funded laboratories are violated and who is responsible,” Jeffrey Kerr, an attorney for PETA said in a news release Monday.

The health center did not immediately return phone and email message seeking comment.

State officials defended the redactions during the FOI case, citing several incidents of violence involving animal advocacy groups and emailed threats received by UConn’s president in 2008. Those threats came during a campaign designed to get the school to stop using live animals in training students on how to intubate patients.

The redacted documents detailed more than 20 violations of federal policies and laws governing experiments on animals documented at UCHC from 2009 to 2012, according to PETA.

Those included conducting unapproved procedures on mice and rabbits, resulting in some animals’ death, and failing to provide animals with proper pain relief after surgery. In some cases, projects were suspended, researchers’ animal-use privileges were revoked, the health center was fined, and charges to federal grants were disallowed, the organization said.

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