Animal rights group files complaint against Sanford Health

Sanford sign (file photo)
Sanford sign (file photo)(GRAYDC)
Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 11:44 AM MDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - An animal rights watchdog organization has filed a federal complaint requesting an investigation into alleged violations by a researcher at Sanford Health.

Stop Animal Exploitation Now filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday, according to a release from the organization.

The complaint stems from a report that stated Dr. Shanta Messereli had her animal use privileges revoked due to “noncompliance events.” The group cited a self-reported document sent by the Sanford Research Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee to the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.

Messereli is a staff scientist at Sanford Research. According to Sanford’s report, a noncompliance report was filed against her in January of 2021, revoking her ability to use live animals in research. That decision was appealed, and Messereli was allowed to conduct research with animals again under an “Oversight and Management Plan.” However, Messereli then faced a subsequent noncompliance report, resulting in Sanford’s research committee revoking her ability to work with animals.

The report, signed by Sanford Health President of Innovation, Research, & World Clinic David Pearce, did not provide any details on the nature of the noncompliance reports filed against Messereli. The letter was dated May 2, 2022.

“Animal laboratories do not ban investigators from animal use over minor infractions,” said Stop Animal Exploitation Now executive director Michael Budkie in a statement. “The USDA must thoroughly investigate Sanford Health and severely punish them for all offenses.”

When asked for comment, a Sanford Health spokesperson responded with the following statement:

“Sanford Health is committed to providing high-quality health care to the patients it serves. Our team of skilled physicians, caregivers and medical researchers adhere to the highest level of animal care in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act as it relates to medical coursework, research and training.”

Read the group’s full complaint, along with Sanford’s self-report to the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, here.

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