Here’s a fresh hell for animals: a company keeps 10,000 goats and 5,000 rabbits in terrible conditions to harvest their blood and sell the antibodies in it. The animals develop the desired antibodies after the facility exposes them to various diseases.
Santa Cruz Biotechnology (SC Biotech) makes its profits by bleeding these animals all but dry and selling the antibodies to researchers. But like the fairy tale goose who laid golden eggs, it kills its income earners with neglect and abuse.
The business model is reminiscent of the movie “The Matrix,” in which [SPOILER ALERT] human bodies are used as batteries. But at least in the matrix humans are unaware of their condition and believed they were living regular lives. SC Biotech’s living property knows exactly what is going on and feels all the injuries and ailments that the company refuses to treat.
The federal government inspected the company many times over the years and found violations of the Animal Welfare Act on every visit, but did little to ameliorate the situation. Recently even the government couldn’t take it anymore. In July 2012 the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) arm filed a complaint against SC Biotech over its treatment of its animals. APHIS argues that the company violated the Animal Welfare Act, but the only remedies it requests are financial penalties and that the company stop violating the statute. APHIS does not ask for the confiscation of SC Biotech’s animals or for an order forbidding it and its top officials from owning animals again.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) followed up with its own lawsuit in California state court, arguing that SC Biotech violated California’s anti-cruelty law and its unfair competition law. ALDF’s complaint listed some of the more common cruelty violations that APHIS had found during its inspections:
- maintaining inadequate medical records for unhealthy animals;
- overdrawing blood from animals;
- harvesting blood from unhealthy animals;
- inadequately monitoring the health of animals under its care and custody; and
- providing improper medical treatment to unhealthy animals.
ALDF’s legal complaint describes some of the violations SC Biotech committed against individual animals:
- “In February 2011, SC Biotech harvested blood from two goats who were contemporaneously receiving veterinary treatment for anemia.”
- A veterinarian recommended euthanasia for a goat suffering from three tumors, one of which was as large as a baseball. Instead SC Biotech kept the goat alive so it could determine whether the animal still had useful antibodies it could siphon out.
- The company did nothing to ameliorate the pain of a goat who had been attacked by a coyote and was visibly suffering.
- After a goat’s cast fell off her broken leg, it took three days before someone put on a new cast. The veterinarian involved said her work load was too high and she couldn’t care for all of the company’s animals.
- The company did not get a diagnosis or treatment for a goat sick with bronchopneumonia. Had she received a diagnosis and treatment earlier she could have recovered. Instead she died a painful death.
The court will hear oral argument on a motion that could kill ALDF’s case on April 23rd. The lawsuit is the first ever under California’s anti-cruelty law against a research-related facility.
Pro-animal lawyers are bringing other creative lawsuits on behalf of suffering creatures. For instance, the Humane Society of the United States has taken aim at Perdue for labeling its chicken “humanely raised.” Perdue’s defense: consumers should know enough about factory farming that they should not expect chicken to be humanely raised, whatever the packaging says.
Wow. Well, at least they know that they are sadistic bastards. Admitting it is the first step, right?
Photo credit: iStockphoto