Even though the University of Washington (UW) is considered a world leader in research, the university continues to invest in outdated animal research methods. Animal labs throughout the world have been shutting down due to public pressure, citations for the abuse and neglect of animals, activists’ exposure of the horrific conditions of labs, and a realization that the future of science is in innovative methods that produce more accurate results than using animals. The UW, on the other hand, has decided to spend over $123 million on building a new animal research facility.
UW already uses hundreds of nonhuman primates, dogs, cats, pigs, rabbits, Guinea pigs, mice, rats, and countless other small animals in its invasive and abusive research. UW has a history of citations from the USDA for neglectful and improper animal care. The most recent citation came in December 2014 for the negligent death of three infant primates who were brutally attacked by older males. They have been fined by the USDA for allowing a primate to starve to death and have received citations for performing unauthorized experiments on primates. Investigators have even found evidence of primates engaging in self-mutilation.
UW currently houses about 2,000 animals of various species to be used in many different research protocols. These numbers were pulled from the latest USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Research Annual Report (2014): Dogs (18), Cats (12), Guinea Pigs (41), Hamsters (32), Rabbits (279), Non-Human Primates (795), Pigs (252), Other Farm Animals (20), All Other Animals (535), for a total of 1,984 animals.
Animal care at University of Washington is so consistently poor that UW has been reprimanded many times by both the USDA and the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC). Although not legally mandated, AAALAC accreditation ensures both higher rates of grant approval and greater flow of finances into an animal research institution. UW officials and consultants believe that their fragile relationship with the USDA and AAALAC arises from a lack of centralization in animal research infrastructure; currently animal research takes place across multiple facilities that are functioning beyond capacity.
According to public records obtained by the campaign, instead of following in the steps of more prestigious institutions like Harvard—investing private and public funding into other forms of biomedical research—and phasing out animal research, UW leadership and the Board of Regents decided to build a vast, centralized, and underground facility--and actually increase its capacity for animals by 30%. To shoulder such an ambitious plan, they began to shore up support for a so-called “Animal Research and Care Facility” (ARCF) as early as 2010. This supposed solution does serve one key purpose—increased and sustained funding—the common denominator of the animal research industry. Regents and UW officials have been very clear that this plan is intended to address the potential funding problems posed by their poor record of animal care.