WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An enormous victory was achieved for animals when nearly 200 dogs and 54 cats were rescued from a North Carolina animal testing facility that closed its doors after an undercover investigation revealed apparent abuse of the animals by workers at the facility. Quick work on the part of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), in partnership with the Humane Society of the U.S. and more than a dozen animal shelters and rescues(1) succeeded in placing all of the rescued animals, offering hope that they will find loving homes and solace after their ordeal.
"This event serves as dramatic testament to what can happen when the humane community comes together to oppose cruelty," says AWI President, Cathy Liss. "We applaud the dedicated efforts of animal welfare advocates who stepped up to take in these animals, and hope that the exposure of this situation will underscore the need for stricter enforcement to protect animals in research facilities."
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) conducted the initial investigation(2) that exposed the apparent cruelty at Professional Laboratory and Research Services, an inconspicuous rural lab funded by large pharmaceutical companies to test insecticides and other chemicals used in companion animal products. For nine months, a PETA investigator worked undercover at the facility, and shot video showing animals in excruciating pain from procedures, as well as employees kicking, throwing, and dragging petrified dogs, violently slamming cats into cages, and screaming obscenities at the animals for showing fear and being uncooperative.
Following its investigation, PETA filed formal complaints with federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and submitted evidence to the local prosecutor's office. Soon thereafter, the USDA inspected the facility and instigated a formal investigation. In the meantime, the lab agreed to surrender voluntarily all its dogs and cats, and to cease research at the facility.
The deadline for placing the released animals was Friday, September 17, and AWI was alerted to the need to find shelter for the animals only three days earlier. AWI scrambled to place the hundreds of animals in shelters to avoid the possibility that they would be euthanized. For several days, AWI staff members frantically worked the phones, calling on its vast network and succeeding in getting all the animals placed. Over a dozen shelters and rescues groups from New Jersey to Florida were enlisted to take them in.
"AWI is extremely grateful to PETA for its initial investigation, to enforcement personnel at the USDA for taking swift action once the situation was revealed, and to the all the animal advocates who worked overtime to get these animals placed in shelters," added Liss. "Through the actions of many, hundreds of animals were rescued and given the chance to receive the care and compassion all animals deserve."
(1) A full list of the animal shelters and rescue facilities involved can be found at http://www.awionline.org/ht/display/ReleaseDetails/i/24465/pid/232.
(2) More information, photos and videos on PETA's investigation of the lab is available online at: http://www.peta.org/features/professional-laboratory-and-research-services.aspx.
AWI was founded in 1951 and is dedicated to alleviating suffering inflicted on animals by humans. As a central pillar of its mission, AWI works to promote better care of animals in research facilities, and foster efforts to provide them with comfortable, humane quarters and the opportunity to engage in natural, species-typical behaviors, while sparing them unnecessary pain, fear and distress.
SOURCE Animal Welfare Institute