Everett lab accused of killing pig during ‘botched’ blood draw

Stop Animal Exploitation Now! filed a complaint against Altasciences based on a confidential report.

EVERETT — A national animal rights group filed a federal complaint this week against a south Everett animal testing laboratory after a routine blood draw resulted in the death of a 5-month-old miniature pig.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now! filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture based on a confidential company report the group obtained.

Altasciences Co., a Canadian firm, operates the animal research facility, which it purchased late last year from Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories.

“This is the first issue that we’ve seen since the change in ownership,” said Michael Budkie, executive director of the nonprofit animal rights group.

Budkie said the group retrieved a copy of the report as part of a regular audit it conducts.

Altasciences filed a report of the incident with the National Institutes of Health Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.

“Animal labs must report any kind of compliance problem if they receive federal funding or want to receive federal funding,” Budkie said.

On April 8, Altasciences’ technicians made multiple attempts to draw blood from a young male pig over a 10-minute span when the animal “went limp and became unresponsive.”

In a corrective/preventative action section, the company said in the future it would “limit the blood collection attempts to three per technician” and recommend staff heed a “time out” policy and give animals breaks between tries, the report said.

Altasciences could not immediately be reached for comment.

“It is quite apparent that this botched procedure caused the death of the animal, and that the mishandling of the procedure resulted in a seriously traumatic incident. The inability of Altasciences staff to draw a simple blood sample, without killing an animal, must raise questions as to their qualifications and training,” Stop Animal Exploitation Now! wrote in a letter to the USDA. The agency enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act.

The animal testing facility, which was founded in 1999, is located at 6605 Merrill Creek Parkway on a 29-acre site.

On the company’s website, Altasciences says its “entire preclinical staff is trained in laboratory animal care and focused on animal welfare and environmental enrichment—embracing compassion, sensitivity and adherence to regulatory guidelines.”

The company provides early-stage research and other services to support the development of new drugs and treatments for humans.

Clients include drug development firms and biopharmaceutical and medical device companies.

In 2016, the facility’s previous owner, Shin Nippon, was fined $185,000 over a federal complaint that 38 monkeys died in the company’s care over a five-year period. Shin Nippon reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that same year.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods.

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