Sacramento-Area College Broke Federal Law, Charges Watchdog

PC: Cosumnes River College Facebook

By Aryal Aglugub and Shady Gonzales

SACRAMENTO, CA – Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, California, is being charged by U.S. regulators for breaking federal law after the negligent death of a rabbit named “Hotie” in one of its research programs, according to a national watchdog.

Cosumnes River College is a two-year institution, which is also connected with the Los Rios Community College District.

The research program is a part of the college’s Animal Science major that is designed to provide students with experience who are seeking careers in agriculture business, veterinary technology, and equine sciences.

During an inspection, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture cited the laboratory with a “critical” violation of the Animal Welfare Act after learning about a death of “Hotie” the rabbit, reported SAEN (Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!), an Ohio-based national research watchdog that monitors U.S. research facilities for any illegal activities or animal abuse.

SAEN filed an official complaint alleging that the violations included unqualified personnel working in the laboratory and improper animal handling, all of which led to Hotie’s death and suffering.

The violations of the Animal Welfare Act, including violations made by the attending veterinarian and veterinary care, resulted in the death of the rabbit, SAEN charged.

The rabbit had to be euthanized, said SAEN. Upon the euthanization process, it was found that the rabbit had been suffering from gastrointestinal stasis prior to its death.

During the inspection conducted by the Department of Agriculture, it was found that any information regarding the rabbit’s lack of appetite in the days before the euthanization were never communicated with a veterinarian, as required by federal law.

The USDA report concluded that “daily observation of all animals to assess their well-being, appropriate documentation of those observations, and direct and frequent communication with the attending veterinarian regarding health issues are necessary to ensure that the animals at the facility receive timely and adequate veterinary care.”

SAEN has filed a complaint with the USDA which accuses them of two federal crimes: unqualified personnel and animal handling violations. The USDA is also being asked to consider major penalties for these unlawful acts, one of which would be implementing a $10,000 fine per infraction.

“I know that your office considers major violations of the Animal Welfare Act to be very serious in nature, especially when the violations injure or kill animals,” SAEN wrote in a letter to the Western Region Director of USDA/APHIS/AC, Dr. Robert Gibbens.

SAEN added, “Therefore, (we) must insist that you take the most severe action allowable under the Animal Welfare Act and immediately begin the process of issuing the maximum fine of $10,000 per infraction against Cosumnes River College at the completion of your investigation.”

“The USDA has now issued a more serious citation against Cosumnes River College for an animal death…the next step must be the maximum penalty for causing an animal to suffer and die,” said SAEN Research Analyst Stacey Ellison.

She added, “Keeping animals alive is the basic part of caring for any animal, and a significant penalty must be instituted so changes will be made. This is especially true for an education program training students for animal-focused careers.”

About The Author

Aryal is a third year Sociology major at the University of California Santa Barbara. After she gains her B.A., she plans on pursuing law school. Her dream is to become an international lawyer, and specifically work against crimes against humanity.

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