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Thursday, February 22, 2024
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UF research study kills two dogs

The study received pushback from an animal rights organization

The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine’s academic building, located at 1945 SW 16th Ave. on Sunday, July 18, 2021.
The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine’s academic building, located at 1945 SW 16th Ave. on Sunday, July 18, 2021.

A UF veterinary clinical trial resulted in the death of two dog subjects.

UF vice president for research David Norton filed a report that revealed the details of the study.

The study tested the effects of adeno-associated virus vectors on two groups of dogs with duchenne muscular dystrophy. The two groups received AAV vector injections on June 24 and Aug. 19, respectively.

AAV vectors are typically used in gene therapy to target specific cells.

“The procedure went smoothly, and the dogs recovered well,” Norton wrote.  

A dog from the second group was admitted to the UF Small Animal Hospital after showing abnormal respiratory behavior Aug. 20. Once admitted, the dog’s condition rapidly deteriorated and eventually entered respiratory arrest.

The dog died the same day.

Two weeks later, a dog from the first group had an “episode of regurgitation,” according to the report. 

In the following days, the dog developed a fever, appetite issues and abnormal abdominal palpitations. After a brief stay at the UF Small Animal Hospital for imaging, the dog was discharged with continued care Sept. 12. 

Three days later, the dog was readmitted to the hospital after it developed a fever and respiratory distress. 

The dog was euthanized Sept. 18, according to the report. 

The report does not make it clear who was in charge of the study or how it received funding, but it does specify it was not funded by Public Health Services.

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The UF Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee temporarily suspended the experiment in October, citing a “lack of principal investigator response” and “concerns over animal welfare,” according to Norton.

The IACUC met again Nov. 1 to discuss reinstatement, but the results of that meeting are unclear.

UF Spokesperson Cynthia Roldan released a statement assuring that the UF Animal Care and Use Program has received full and continued accreditation from the AAALAC International, a nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science.

“The University of Florida is committed to the ethical use of animals in its pursuit of medical advances that benefit both humans and animals,” Roldan wrote.

Michael A. Budkie, executive director of the animal rights organization Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, has taken action against UF for the experiment.

UF’s attempts to convince the public that they are concerned for the welfare of animals in laboratory settings, Budkie said.

”The reality is that if that were true, these reports would not exist,” Budkie said.

In February, Budkie filed a complaint against UF to the US Department of Agriculture. In the complaint, he accused the university of violating the Animal Welfare Act. 

Budkie followed up his complaint May 20 and called for the termination of the experiment in a letter to UF President Ben Sasse.

Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! has previously accused UF of animal rights violations. 

In 2021, SAEN called for the university to be fined under the Animal Welfare Act after a US Department of Agriculture citation revealed four cats were euthanized due to not receiving proper anesthesia before undergoing bone marrow surgery.

This is an ongoing investigation. Check back for updates.

Contact Garrett at gshanley@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @garrettshanley.


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Garrett Shanley

Garrett Shanley is a third-year journalism and history major and The Alligator's Fall 2023 university administration reporter. In his free time, Garrett can be found watching Wong Kar-Wai movies and brooding.


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