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Corapeake animal testing lab closes

CORAPEAKE – An animal testing lab here has closed in the wake of allegations that workers mistreated the animals.

Professional Laboratory and Research Services, Inc. (PLRS) shut down the facility following formal complaints filed by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) officials alleging animal abuse.

The closing prompted an immediate response from animal shelters. According to the WRAL TV 5 website, three dozen animal groups rescued more than 200 animals from the facility last week. The U.S. Humane Society coordinated a 14-hour effort Friday to remove the animals from the closed lab.

The website reported that rescue workers had to follow strict rules once they were inside the lab. Only one group was allowed in at a time and rescue workers were prohibited from taking recording or communication devices, such as cell phones or cameras, inside. Lab workers loaded the animals and did little or no talking.

The rescued animals were taken to shelters and foster homes across North Carolina and the East Coast. Officials with those animal rescue shelters promise to rehabilitate the animals and make a determination on which ones are fit for adoption.

Over the weekend, Cloud Nine Rescue Flights flew more than 30 dogs to rescue groups in Florida and New York.

In a press release issued Sept. 8, PETA officials said they have filed formal complaints with federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and submitted evidence to the local prosecutor’s office.

This comes in the wake of an undercover investigation conducted by PETA at the lab. According to the press release, the Corapeake-based laboratory tests flea and tick preventatives and other animal-companion products for Sergeant’s, Bayer, Eli Lilly, Merck, Schering-Plough, Pfizer, Novartis, and Merial, the makers of Frontline.

PETA claimed their investigation revealed that the animals used in the pet product tests were physically abused, neglected and tormented. Their press release included a digital link to an online video shot at the lab by a PETA investigator working undercover at the lab. That person was hired as an animal caretaker at the lab in December of last year.

The video, viewed by this newspaper, showed lab employees handling the animals in an aggressive manner, including instances of lifting rabbits and puppies by their ears and throats and, in one scene, throwing a cat into its cage.

In another scene, lab workers are heard talking about the possible lack of potency of a sedation drug used on a dog whose teeth were being pulled. The workers are heard saying that the medication was two years past its expiration date.

PETA’s press release claimed that lab staffers left dogs in enclosures that were being pressure-hosed, leaving the animals soaked with a mixture of water and harsh chemicals, such as bleach.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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