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Pitt named top violator of animal welfare law: PETA study

Pitt has been cited by pro-life activists for research problems as well

The University of Pittsburgh is a top violator of federal animal welfare law according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The group’s recent study ranked 25 universities that receive National Institutes of Health funding according to their respective number of violations of animal welfare guidelines.

Pitt received $675,447,236 in funding from the NIH in 2022 according to the study.

PETA obtained the violation reports on these 25 universities through Freedom of Information Act requests.

The university did not respond to two media requests for comment on the report sent on Sep. 22 and Oct. 10.

Categories included in the report were neglect, unapproved activity, inadequate pain management, improper pain management, improper surgical techniques, botched euthanasia, failure to be humane and issues arising from experimental experimentation.

The most common violation, by far, was neglect. During several instances, mice were found dead in their cages after lab workers had forgotten to feed them.

Alka Chandna, PETA’s laboratory investigations vice president, said Pitt “has violated not only the agreement they’ve made with the National Institutes of Health…to comply with minimal standards, but also the public’s trust.”

Chandna told The Fix in an email the NIH “is authorized to strip such institutions of their ability to secure additional federal funding to conduct animal experiments and can even demand money back from the institution.”

The PETA representative said “in the case of Pitt and the other top violators, NIH should do exactly that.”

MORE: Pitt asked NIH for PR help with aborted tissue controversy

The Fix also asked Chandna her opinion on what safeguards should be set in place to make violations of animal welfare guidelines less common.

“As a first step, the university should implement a zero tolerance policy for violations of animal welfare provisions,” Chandna said. “But as a more fundamental point, we believe that Pitt’s track record suggests that it simply can’t be trusted to continue with its animal experimentation program.”

She said Pit “should modernize its laboratories and use only non-animal, human-relevant methodologies to conduct research.”

PETA has drafted the Research Modernization Deal which would end the use of laboratory testing of animals.

The animal rights group is not the only organization to question Pitt’s research ethics.

For years now, pro-life groups have raised concerns about Pitt’s fetal organ harvesting program. Pitt has previously been accused of targeting black and Hispanic babies for abortions to harvest their organs.

While an outside law firm stated Pitt is “fully compliant with applicable laws” relating to the “procurement, disbursement, and use of fetal human tissue in research,” an ethicist pointed out that preborn babies cannot give consent to tissue donation.

“This tissue is derived via the death of an innocent unborn child. There’s frankly no realistic way that informed consent can be given for the donation of the organs, tissues, and body parts of the child,” ethicist David Prentice previously told The Fix.

He is a researcher with the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute and a former adviser to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“So this amounts to trafficking body parts. Whether that’s legal or not, it is definitely a lack of respect for the individual who died in this procedure.”

MORE: UNC research director cited for plagiarism, misconduct

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About the Author
College Fix Contributor Emily Fowler is a student at The Master's University, where she studies music. She previously received an associate's degree in arts and sciences at Wabash Valley College. She also writes for Campus Reform, where she is a senior correspondent.