Feds: Photos From Seattle Laboratory Could Cause ‘Embarrassment’
PETA Files Administrative Appeal Over Agency’s Refusal to Hand Over Inspection Photos From Pi Bioscientific
For Immediate Release:
April 23, 2018
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Seattle – As reported in today’s Seattle Times, PETA has filed an appeal with the administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) contending that the agency is violating the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by withholding photographs from an inspection of Pi Bioscientific, an antibody producer in Seattle with a history of persistent federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) violations.
Nearly a year after PETA submitted an FOIA request for the photographs taken by the USDA in March 2016, the agency responded by saying that it wouldn’t hand over any photos—or even acknowledge that they existed—because doing so might cause “embarrassment.” The USDA’s own inspection guide mandates that the agency take photos of violations that have an immediate impact on an animal’s well-being—and during that time period, Pi Bioscientific was cited for a host of violations, including failing to provide dozens of goats who suffered from emaciation, diarrhea, lameness, overgrown hooves, and/or upper respiratory disease with adequate care. The company was cited for 20 violations in just six days in March 2016.
“Any laboratory that leaves goats to suffer from severe medical problems should be not only embarrassed but also downright ashamed,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “The USDA should be punishing animal abusers, not protecting them from public scrutiny, and PETA will keep fighting for access to these photos and other pieces of vital information.”
Since the missing photographs were presumably taken, Pi Bioscientific has continued to violate the AWA. According to the most recent available inspection reports, just last month, it was cited for seven violations of the act, including failing to provide at least eight suffering goats and sheep with veterinary care—and continuing to deny at least four of those animals care for three weeks after having been cited.
The antibodies produced and sold by Pi Bioscientific could be produced using methods that don’t involve live animals. PETA scientists are working to replace the use of animals in this industry with superior cruelty-free methods.
PETA has been campaigning against the USDA’s lack of transparency ever since the agency removed thousands of inspection reports from its website. The group has published many of the scrubbed documents, filed a lawsuit against the agency over the blackout, and more.