PETA Calls For U-M Audit After COVID-19–Related Animal Killings

MICHIGAN — The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, has called for a state audit of the University of Michigan after the group said the university took part in COVID-19-related animal killings for 'non-essential experiments.'

On Thursday, PETA sent a letter to the state's auditor general urging the audit of the use of public money, personnel, property, equipment, and space by the University of Michigan for the animal experiments. PETA said the experiments apparently led to the euthanasia of animals in the school's laboratories.

"The University of Michigan's experiments on animals were undoubtedly cruel, and apparently not even the school can justify them," PETA Vice President Shalin Gala said in a news release. "PETA is calling on state officials to follow the money and prevent taxpayer waste—and animal suffering—in laboratories that should never have received funding in the first place."

In a statement to Patch, the university said that U-M, along with numerous other research institutions, has required its investigators to limit new experiments to only those that could have an immediate impact on patients contracting the coronavirus during the pandemic.

"As a public research university, we acknowledge the important obligation bestowed upon us to ensure that no animal is used needlessly and that animals are spared all unnecessary pain and distress," the university wrote in a statement. "We are committed to maintaining mechanisms for providing continued daily care to all animals housed on campus in the event of a natural disaster or other events that may interrupt normal business, including the COVID-19 situation. This includes continued veterinary medical care; assessment of animal health and well-being; provision of food, water, and clean cages; and maintenance of appropriate environmental conditions. Our top priority is to continue the provision of critical life support services that ensure animal welfare."

In its letter, PETA said the university received $370 million in state funding, some of which may have gone toward funding animal experiments that were ultimately postponed or canceled.

In March, the University of Michigan urged its experimenters to "ramp down all noncritical laboratory research activities by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 20" by identifying "up to 20% of animals" that they "consider most critical to save" and euthanizing "males if there are several of the same strain" and pups "prior weaning," according to PETA.

PETA claims that the directives may have led to the killing of hundreds or more animals whom the school deemed extraneous and is questioning why state funds were wasted on experiments considered non-essential.

This article originally appeared on the Detroit Patch