COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) – A Callaway County animal research lab has agreed to pay a $33,000 civil penalty after investigators alleged the company committed nearly 40 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture filed the complaint against Sinclair Research Center in October 2006, more than three years after animal rights activists targeted the lab in an undercover sting.
Among the alleged violations found by Agriculture Department inspectors: failing to provide sheep with appropriate pain relief during surgery; inadequate training of employees for animal handling and care; failure to vaccinate research dogs and cats; and keeping animals in cages smaller than the legal limits.
‘The gravity of the violations alleged in this complaint is great,’ the report concluded.
The Agriculture Department also accused Sinclair Research of a ‘lack of good faith’ for conducting research at a location not known to the federal agency.
The company had no previous animal welfare violations but had been issued a written warning for failing to submit an annual report.
In a Feb. 28 settlement, Sinclair Research agreed to pay the fine and to ‘cease and desist’ from further violations of federal law.
‘It was a business decision,’ said company owner Guy Bouchard. ‘We had to resolve it promptly.’
The federal inspections that triggered the complaint came several months after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a series of video recordings showing animals it said had been mistreated. The secret recordings were made by a PETA employee who had also been hired by the research lab.
The PETA investigation prompted two of the research lab’s biggest customers to sever ties: pet-food-maker Iams and pet-food-supplier Menu Foods. Iams is owned by Procter & Gamble.
Menu Foods recently recalled more than 60 million cans and pouches of pet food nationwide after the deaths of at least 16 household pets due to suspected rat poison found in food.
Bouchard purchased Sinclair Research, formerly known as Reproductive and Toxicology Consultation Services, from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1994. Bouchard was a university employee before he started Sinclair Research.
The company was previously located in Columbia on university property. It has since moved to the town of Hatton, near Auxvasse in western Callaway County.
Sinclair Research, which has a site in Windham, Maine, is also a licensed dealer of research animals. According to the Agriculture Department, the company sold more than 6,500 animals for a combined revenue of at least $4.5 million from 2001 to 2004.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.