After reviewing federal inspection reports, a state advisory committee has recommended recertification of seven research facilities to receive pound animals.
The state Health Department's Impound Animals Advisory Committee also received an update at its meeting this week on its proposed new rules for certifying facilities.Utah law requires government-operated animal shelters to turn over unclaimed animals for research upon a certified facility's request. The animals must first be held for five days or as long as county ordinance requires - most ordinances provide a three-day holding period.
The advisory committee met earlier in December to vote on the annual recertifications. But the panel postponed its decision after a member asked to first review the reports of annual facility inspections done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
As it turned out, some of the inspections had not been performed, and the committee arranged to have State Veterinarian Michael Marshall inspect three of the seven facilities so the panel would not have to choose between recertifying without the reports or halting research when certificates expire at year's end.
Marshall's reports found those three facilities - the University of Utah's department of vivarial sciences, Brigham Young University's Research Division and the Veterans Administration Medical Center's Animal Research Facility - to be clean and well-managed and the animals well-cared-for.
Earlier inspections also found adequate conditions at Primary Children's Medical Center's Biophysics Department and Deseret Research Co. Inc.'s Utah Biomedical Test Laboratory Inc.
Annual reports to the USDA for 1987 indicated Utah State University's Laboratory Animal Research Center and Weber State College's department of zoology did not actually use impounded dogs or cats in the year reported.
The committee voted to recertify all seven facilities. Lynn Bradak, the animal welfare representative on the committee, who had asked for the reports, voted against recertifying the UBTL and Primary Children's facilities.
She said one person - Austin Larsen - serves as attending veterinarian at the VA facility, Primary and LDS Hospital. "I think that's spreading himself a little thin."
LDS Hospital did not ask for certification this year, because it is using rats and mice, not impounded dogs and cats, in its laboratory. And Bradak said she didn't vote against the VA facility because it allows public access and has supervisor Paul Sine on staff, whom she described as "just excellent." She said she's confident the VA's animals receive proper care.
Terry Warnick, chairman of the animal use committee for LDS Hospital and Primary Children's Medical Center, said Bradak needn't worry that Larsen is spreading himself too thin at those two hospitals. He said the veterinarian sits on the animal use committee, which meets quarterly. At Primary he supervises proceduresperformed on dogs, but those were only done two or three times in the past year.
Bradak said she voted against UBTL's certification for a similar reason - because the University of Utah's director of animal resources, Jack L. Taylor, is also listed as supervisor of animal facilities on UBTL's application.
Taylor said there's some confusion about his role at UBTL - he acts as attending veterinarian on a consulting basis but is not the regular facility supervisor. That work is done by in-house personnel, he said. Taylor stressed that he does the UBTL work on his own time and it does not interfere with his duties at theuniversity.
A public hearing on the proposed rule changes will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Cannon Health Building, 288 N. 1460 West, Room 125. Written comments will be accepted until Feb. 3.