USDA issued official warning to Mayo Clinic for research puppy death

Mayo Clinic was cited by the USDA in January for failing to report discovered mucus in a 9-month-old puppy that led to its asphyxiation after a surgical procedure in June 2020.

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ROCHESTER — The United States Department of Agriculture issued Mayo Clinic an official warning for failing to provide adequate veterinary care in the death of a 9-month-old puppy in a research lab in June 2020.

The warning was issued on Jan. 27, 2022, after a USDA inspection report made public on Dec. 17, 2021, stated a 9-month-old puppy was found dead at the S.C. Johnson Research facility on June 23, 2020, two days following a surgical procedure to place a tracheostomy tube.

The report said two days before the procedure, mucus was detected by a member of the research team and not reported to the attending veterinarian. An autopsy on the dog showed "a large (mucus) plug was found below the tube, which occluded the airway and caused asphyxiation."

A Mayo Clinic spokesperson offered a statement regarding the USDA's citation in an email to the Post Bulletin.

"The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently cited Mayo Clinic for failing to report a medical issue to the veterinary staff, which resulted in the death of a study canine in 2020," the statement said. "While the research project investigation is no longer active, our staff carefully reviewed the incident immediately after it occurred to identify opportunities to further improve our care processes.


"Mayo Clinic makes every effort to ensure the safety and well-being of animals and adheres to or exceeds all federal and state laws and regulations regarding animal use in research. Mayo uses animals in research only when necessary and always with the goal of providing improved treatment or therapies for patients."

In January, the animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now filed a complaint urging that the clinic be "severely punished to demonstrate that the USDA has no tolerance for animal abuse/deaths/injuries which result from incompetence."

On Thursday, March 10, 2022, the group called the warning "nothing more than a slap on the wrist, which says they think the life of this puppy is meaningless."

According to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's (APHIS) website, an official warning is "regulatory correspondence notifying an individual or business that APHIS believes that an alleged violation of a federal law or regulation has occurred. It is intended to notify the individual or business of the alleged violation, and thereby provide an opportunity to ensure future compliance."

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