The U.S. Department of Agriculture sent a warning letter to the university last month about the dog’s death in June 2010.
“This notice is being issued at this time as a serious warning that if you fail to comply with the requirements of the (Federal) Animal Welfare Act in the future, this citation and all past and future documented violations will be used to justify a more severe penalty,” said the letter from Dr. Elizabeth Goldentyer, Eastern Regional director.
But the university, which reported the violation to the USDA, has already taken steps to ensure it never happens again, said Dr. Mark Hamrick, the interim vice president for research.
The dog was part of an experiment in hypertension and had just undergone surgery as part of that research but should have survived, Hamrick said. The dog was being weaned off the ventilator to begin breathing on its own and was supposed to be watched by an animal technician.
“The technician turned to assist another investigator and turned back around three minutes later and the animal had not resumed normal breathing,” Hamrick said. “So they attempted to revive the animal but were unsuccessful.”
The university immediately reported the incident to USDA and began to implement corrective procedures “which include a reprimand and disciplinary action for the technician, and also training,” Hamrick said.
“This technician has had a very strong record up to that point so we thought additional training would prevent any future occurrences like this.”
As far as he knows, this is the first incident of its kind at the university in recent years and no incidents have occurred since, Hamrick said. The university was not fined, he said.