CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has submitted an audit request into “the allegation of the waste of state funds” towards the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.
“We’re trying to determine if any of the $441 million in state taxpayer funding that’s been given to UVA, and Virginia Tech in fiscal year 2019 has been wasted on cruel animal experiments, which the universities deemed to be extraneous during their response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” PETA Vice President of International Laboratory Methods Shalin Gala said.
This stems from both universities responses to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is likely that numerous animals may have been killed as a result of the COVID-19 directives at UVA and Virginia Tech and other universities across the country just due to the need to reduce staffing for social distancing purposes, and also to reduce the workload associated with a high number of animals needing care,” Gala said.
According to UVA, none of those actions were taken.
“The letter from PETA references a contingency plan developed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to be executed in the event of worst-case staffing shortages," University of Virginia spokesperson Wes Hester said. "Those staffing shortages did not come to pass and the contingency plans were not implemented.”
Hester also said that there is no truth to the suggestion that any planned research activities were “unnecessary, nonessential, noncritical, or extraneous,” and that most of the funding for these projects isn’t from the state appropriations.
“If the audit confirms that state taxpayer funds have been wasted on cruel animal experiments that these universities are considering to be non-essential, then we’re urging the state auditor to take all corrective actions possible to ensure that current state funded research activities involving animals are permanently terminated,” Gala said.
A spokesperson from Virginia Tech also denies that the claims are true.
“Virginia Tech did not mandate any animal research to be stopped or delayed due to COVID-19,” Virginia Tech spokesperson Mark Owczarski said. “We did not mandate any animals to be euthanized due to COVID-19. At the onset of the pandemic we did not differentiate animal studies as critical or non-critical. We continued our normal operations providing high-quality animal husbandry and veterinary care, consistent with applicable regulations and standards, and classified animal care employees as essential personnel.”
There is no timetable as to when the results of the audit will be available.