Remembering 10,000 Animals Who Drowned During Superstorm Sandy At New York University Labs
Please send two letters: use the form at this link to email your comments to NYU, then use the form at this link to email your comments to NIH.
Six months after Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, we must not forget the 10,000 rats and mice who died in laboratories at New York University Medical Center in New York City, where they were left to drown as floodwaters surged into the basement where they were housed, trapped in cages with no means of escape.
Mouse familyNYU Medical Center was hard hit by the storm, but there was adequate enough warning, beginning as much as five days before the storm, for the Medical Center to plan for removal of the animals in the event of disaster. IDA believes that NYU Medical Center did not do everything possible to protect the lives of the many thousands of animals who died a miserable death, drowned in kerosene and sewage tainted icy waters from the East River. Those animals were entrusted to their care and had a right to be protected from these terrible events.
This is especially true in light of the lessons that should have been learned from similar past events. In 2001 Tropical Storm Allison flooded basement labs at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, drowning 30,000 animals. Another 4,000 animals drowned at the University of Texas in that same storm. 8,000 animals drowned at Louisiana State University in 2005 as a result of Hurricane Katrina – thousands more drowned at Tulane University.
These staggering numbers of animals drowned while trapped in lab cages are inexcusable. It’s time to demand that research facilities keep their animal laboratories out of the basement. Climate changes have resulted in increasingly damaging storms, causing unprecedented flooding and surges. Animals confined in laboratories need to be protected from horrible death by drowning. This should also be an advantageous time for labs around the country, including NYU, to cut down on the use of animals and employ more modern, humane and effective methods.
In 2001, after flooding caused by Tropical Storm Allison drowned thousands of animals at the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Science in Houston, scientists there began to incorporate other ways to continue their research, including cell cultures, computer models and human-based studies.
One scientist there, Dr. Michael Blackburn, told The Washington Post that “It was really an opportunity to think differently and work differently.” Take action now:
1) Send emails to NYU asking that they prevent such an event from ever happening again. NYU is just 500 feet from the East River. Also request that they use this unfortunate tragedy as an opportunity to incorporate more modern and humane methods of research that do not use animals.
2) Then demand that the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) immediately promulgate a policy requiring research facilities to house animals on higher elevations, especially in flood prone areas. All institutions must also have a clear evacuation plan for animals that is implemented in advance of any threatening storm.