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Lab shut down for animal abuse

Suzanne E. Winter

A North Carolina private laboratory surrendered over 200 lab animals after PETA released evidence of animal rights violations by lab employees.

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A private North Carolina animal product testing laboratory has closed after an animal right organization filed a formal complaint with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Gates County district attorney's office and the USDA are investigating accusations of animal cruelty violations.

After a nine-month undercover investigation, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a video, described by some watchers as upsetting, that documented animal rights violations at the Professional Laboratory and Research Services, Inc. (PLRS) in Corapeake, NC.

After a nine-month undercover investigation, the PETA released a video that documented animal rights violations at the Professional Laboratory and Research Services, Inc. (PLRS) in Corapeake, NC. Source: PETA

PLRS President Helen Sonenshine called the footage “disgusting and appalling” in a press release, stating that the actions violated company policy and any offenders would be fired. The laboratory tested companion animal products produced by Bayer, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Schering-Plough (now Merck), Sergeant's, Wellmark, and Merial, the maker of Frontline flea and tick products. The exact types of abuse are unknown, but PETA reports that lab employees were observed shouting at and being physically violent with the animals, many of whom were housed in cages full of feces and other refuse.

When the lab was shut down, 200 dogs and 54 cats were released to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in a fourteen-hour rescue mission on 17 Sept. SPCA has placed the dogs and cats in shelters or foster homes along the East Coast. The Triangle Beagle Rescue of North Carolina took in nineteen dogs and placed them with vetted volunteers around Raleigh, additionally flying sixteen more dogs to a shelter in West Palm Beach, FL, with the help of Cloud 9 Rescue Flights.

The PLRS surrender is the largest rescue that Triangle Beagle Rescue has ever participated in and the first time they have taken in laboratory animals. Although the majority of dogs that they rescue are either discarded or abused hunting dogs, volunteers say that the rehabilitation process is the same. “You have to teach them what it’s like to live with a family in a home,” said Karen Carlton, press relations coordinator of the volunteer-staffed Triangle Beagle Rescue.

While the investigation continues, the foster parents of the lab animals are just happy that they’re safe. “We do what we do, and we love doing it. Dogs are very resilient, and it’s just a privilege and a pleasure to watch them blossom and we’re seeing that with the lab dogs every day,” said Carlton.

Keywords:  animal abuse PETA SPCA PLRS