KUMC denies accusations of abusing, killing animals and cover-ups

An Ohio-based anti-animal experimentation group is accusing the University of Kansas Medical Center of killing dozens of research animals and engaging in a massive cover-up to hide violations from federal regulators.

The audit by Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN) alleges staff at the medical research facility reported 23 incidents between May 2015 and March 2017 that ran afoul of federal regulations. They say the incidents of abused animals included rabbits, rats, mice, and a gerbil. SAEN says dozens of those animals died in the experiments, including a mouse that was set on fire.

SAEN claims KUMC has only passed along four of those reports to federal regulators, as is required by law.

KUMC spokesperson Natalie Lutz told 13 NEWS the Kansas City-based campus "maintains a stringent oversight process that includes notifying animal welfare governing bodies of specific incidents regarding the use of animals in research."

"KU Medical Center is in regular contact with these oversight entities, and remains committed to the conduct of animal research in an ethical and responsible manner,” she continued.

SAEN says the dozens of incidents its independent audit discovered - as well as what it calls "a consistent pattern of withholding this information from federal regulators" - could put at risk the $20 million in federal funding KUMC receives every year.

Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T., SAEN executive director and co-founder, said the KUMC staff "bungled its way through multiple experiments," which he argues wasted millions of tax dollars and "unnecessarily tortur(es) and kill(s) animals." He went on to say the administration systematically failed to report the violations, flouting federal law.

"If one or two incidents had been missed, that could be interpreted as carelessness," added Budkie. "But when more than 82 percent of the non-compliances have not been reported that can only be construed as intentional."