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Group wants investigation of Iowa rabbit deaths

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An animal welfare group is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate the deaths of four rabbits used for research at the University of Iowa.

A USDA routine inspection report found that four rabbits died this summer of "unexpected study complications" in medical laboratories under the school's animal resources office, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported ( ). Details about what the study entailed were not available.

The Aug. 26 report said the researchers did provide care for the animals, but didn't contact or consult with a veterinarian about their health.

The animals died between June 14 and June 16. The report said the researchers didn't notify the veterinarian of their death until June 16. It said "direct and frequent communication" is needed so "timely and accurate information on problems of animal health, behavior and well-being are conveyed" to the veterinarian.

The animal welfare group, Stop Animal Exploitation Now!, also asked for fines against the school. The group believes the university is liable for fines under the Federal Animal Welfare Act.

"It is clear from the report the staff carrying out these experiments failed to call a veterinarian knowing the animals were in distress," group member Julia Orr said in a written statement. "Researchers are well aware of the requirements for the safety of the animals and their negligence killed these rabbits."

University of Iowa spokesman Tom Moore said the school has addressed the USDA report internally.

"The University of Iowa is committed to complying with all rules and regulations governing the care and use of animals in research," Moore said in an email. "The University acted promptly to correct the issue reported this summer."


Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen,

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