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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Animal watchdog group files 4th complaint against WSU

By Shanon Quinn Moscow-Pullman Daily News

Ohio-based Stop Animal Exploitation Now filed another complaint this past week against Washington State University for what the animal rights group characterizes as a systematic failure at the university that has resulted in animal deaths due to negligence.

The complaint, the fourth made by the group against WSU, focuses on the deaths of bighorn sheep and lambs in 2015.

According to the complaint, dated Sept. 27 and written in letter form by SAEN co-founder Michael A. Budkie to Robert Gibbens, director of the USDA’s western region, some of the animals were “ripped apart by predators” and others were not provided treatment for their respective illnesses.

According to documentation from SAEN, Budkie’s complaint was based primarily on necropsies – the name for an autopsy performed on an animal. Budkie alleged in his complaint that no treatments were mentioned in the necropsy documentation for animals that died from pneumonia and some of the animals had been ripped apart by predators.

Charlie Powell, senior communications manager for the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, said the university was performing state and federally approved research.

“If you select the words a naive public is going to react most easily to, you make it sound as bad as you can,” Powell said.

Powell said necropsies are not good indicators of the quality of an animal’s life.

“They’re certainly not a picture of the care these animals have received their entire lives,” Powell said. “They’re more of a snapshot.”

Powell said the animals in question, bighorn sheep, had been part of a vaccine trial that failed and the pneumonia that killed them was quick acting.

“Wild animals tend not to show a lot of medical distress until very near the point of no return,” he said.

Budkie also claimed two juvenile bighorn sheep were killed by predators, as one was found missing an eye and another with a bit of colon protruding from its rectum.

Powell said the injuries were postmortem and likely caused by scavenging birds.

“The moment an animal, or even a human dies out of doors, predation begins immediately,” he said. “It’s natural for a predator to attack the eyes or body openings first,” he said.

During the past year, SAEN has filed three other complaints against WSU concerning the deaths of grizzly bears, calves, pigs, rabbits, bighorn sheep and a dog. SAEN pushed for the USDA to fine the university the $10,000 per animal death.

“I must insist that this facility receive the maximum in penalties for these multiple non-compliances, especially since these incidents are directly relevant to the deaths of multiple animals,” Budkie wrote in his latest complaint.