Courtesy of Cornell University

Cornell responded to PETA's letter to President Martha E. Pollack, accusing Weill Cornell Medicine of animal misconduct.

April 3, 2020

Cornell Responds to PETA’s Allegations of Animal Misconduct, Affirms Commitment to Animal Care

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After animal rights organization People for Ethical Treatment of Animals alleged that Cornell would “destroy” animals used for nonessential research, the University responded on Monday, saying that it is committed to treating animals with the highest ethical standards.

“As always, our policies — both long-standing and newly instituted — require every investigator or instructor wishing to use animals to conduct that work in accordance with all laws, regulations, and policies governing the care and use of animals,” wrote Joel Malina, vice president for University relations, in an email to the animal rights organization obtained by The Sun.

PETA sent a letter to President Martha E. Pollack on March 25 concerning Weill Cornell Medicine’s COVID-19 contingency plan, which encouraged researchers to flag all essential animal cages and cut their animal population by at least 40 percent from March 1 levels. Under this plan, WCM did not specify what it would do with the remaining nonessential animals.

While PETA called for Cornell to shut down animal testing, Malina did not address the issue in the email. Malina said that WCM’s policy was implemented to ensure that Cornell complies with laws and regulations, while allowing for animals to be properly cared for and for essential research to continue with limited staffing.

“By restricting the number of personnel attending to animals, Cornell is also able to better preserve the stores of personal protective equipment for human medical use,” Malina wrote. “I would also note that the placement of new animal orders is prohibited at this time, as is breeding of animals unless essential to maintain a line.”

In PETA’s previous letter, it listed out a string of complaints against Cornell’s animal practices. The group claimed that Cornell deviated from approved protocols, administered contaminated vaccines which led to the deaths of 19 mice, gave expired drugs to more than 900 mice and failed to provide complete records of its animal care.

Read more about PETA’s initial message to Cornell here.

“If Cornell does a sloppy, substandard job of caring for animals in fully staffed laboratories, nothing good can be expected amid a pandemic,” said PETA Vice President Shalin Gala in a March 25 press release.

Malina did not address these allegations or the organization’s previous calls for Cornell to release information on “tax-payer funded experiments deemed ‘nonessential.’” In a follow-up email to Malina, PETA also asked for Cornell to prohibit researchers from conducting experiments with animals in the future if they have committed alleged violations against animal testing laws.