First-Ever Lawsuit Under California Cruelty Law Filed Against Animal Research Lab in Santa Cruz

Posted on January 17, 2013

For immediate release

Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF

SANTA CRUZ — Today the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a complaint on behalf of Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) against Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc., in the first-ever lawsuit against an animal research lab under California’s state cruelty law and Unfair Competition Law.

Today’s lawsuit was filed in the California Superior Court of Santa Cruz County against Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Inc. for failing to properly care for animals according to numerous inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). ALDF’s lawsuit charges that this mistreatment of animals to reduce production costs violates state laws. SAEN, who is committed to ending the abuse of animals in laboratories, has had to make an extraordinary effort and divert crucial funds to publicize Santa Cruz Biotech’s illegal activities and cruelty to animals.

Santa Cruz Biotech, a for-profit Delaware corporation that supplies antibodies and other research materials to laboratories worldwide, operates a 200-acre animal research facility in Santa Cruz, California, where it confines 10,000 goats and 5,000 rabbits. USDA investigations have documented multiple violations over the past six years at Santa Cruz Biotech, and have repeatedly cited the corporation for unlawful neglect of goats. Emaciated and severely malnourished animals were discovered with untreated skin conditions and painful respiratory ailments, and one goat had an untreated broken leg. Another goat was found visibly suffering from an untreated coyote bite.

Under California cruelty laws, facilities must not harvest blood from unhealthy animals, nor overdraw blood from any animal. Yet many seriously ill animals are repeatedly and illegally harvested for blood. Investigations also cite the facility for keeping a seriously ill animal alive for more than 21 days for blood harvesting despite a veterinarian’s recommendation of euthanasia. Earlier this year, the USDA filed a complaint against Santa Cruz Biotech for 20 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and the company could face a $200,000 penalty.

"The USDA has been totally unable to end the suffering of animals at Santa Cruz Biotech," said Michael A. Budkie, A.H.T., executive director of SAEN. "This lawsuit is the only way to make this criminal lab follow the law."

"Laboratories like Santa Cruz Biotech are not above the law," said Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF. "Thousands of animals are suffering from illegal neglect and abuse in this lab to bolster corporate profits. Allowing Santa Cruz Biotech to get away with breaking the law and harming animals sets a dangerous precedent for the safety of all animals exploited in testing facilities."

Copies of the lawsuit are available upon request.

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