Lab used by Lilly, peers accused of animal cruelty

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An animal-welfare group believes workers at a North Carolina research lab have abused dogs, cats and rabbits.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a video Wednesday that it says was taken by one of the group’s undercover investigators. Video clips show people roughly handling animals, including one person purposely letting a cat grasp a fence with its claw before yanking it.

PETA says the disturbing video was shot at Professional Laboratory and Research Services Inc. The company has a facility in Corapeake, N.C., near the Virginia state line.

The lab has tested flea and tick preventatives and other products for numerous companies, including Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co.’s Elanco Animal Health division, as well as Sergeant’s, Bayer, Merck, Schering-Plough, Pfizer, Novartis, and Merial.

Company president Helen Sonenshine said she was appalled by the video and is reviewing it closely for possible employee firings. U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections show no recent violations at the lab.

The local district attorney says he also is reviewing the video.

PETA said its investigation found that lab employees kicked, threw, and dragged dogs; lifted rabbits by their ears and puppies by their throats; violently slammed cats into cages; and exposed animals to toxic chemicals.

“As long as Elanco/Eli Lilly employs PLRS, it shares responsibility for the suffering of animals who are hosed down with bleach, slammed about like bits of wood, and left to suffer without medical care," PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk said in a prepared statement. "PETA is asking anyone who cares about their animal companions to avoid any products made by Elanco/Eli Lilly."

Lilly officials confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Elanco has used the lab in the past.

“Elanco has previously conducted work with PLRS; however, Elanco is not currently conducting live phase animal research there,” Ted McKinney, senior director of corporate affairs for Elanco, said in a prepared statement. “More broadly, animals are necessary for pharmaceutical research, as the FDA requires the use of animals in testing of experimental medicines. This pre-clinical work continues to be essential to test the safety and efficacy of medicines before testing them in people.

“Where animals must be used, measures are taken to assure that the fewest numbers of animals are used and that their discomfort and distress are minimized. Research animals at Lilly are cared for under the close supervision of veterinarians and trained animal caretakers, and we maintain the highest standards of animal care and use."


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