A medical research lab out of Ramona is now under the microscope of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Last month, NBC 7 Investigates reported on instances of animal neglect found at ProSci laboratories. ProSci creates antibodies in rabbits, llamas, cows, and other animals.
Records uncovered by NBC 7 Investigates found the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited ProSci 44 times since 2015 for animal welfare violations.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said the department is now evaluating complaints filed about the treatment of animals at the facility.
“We are evaluating the best way to coordinate with our state and federal partners in this matter,” the statement read. “We are not in a position to make a further comment at this time.”
Veterinarians who reviewed ProSci’s USDA inspection reports from 2015 to present told NBC 7 Investigates they were shocked over how rabbits, goats, llamas, and other animals were treated.
Newly released photos from inside the laboratory show neglected rabbits and goats, food contaminated with rodent feces, rabbits with ear mites, and dried blood on their ears and fur.
The photos were taken during a 2017 USDA inspection of the ProSci facility and were released to the animal rights group Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) after the group filed a Freedom of Information Act request.
“ProSci has compiled the most extensive violations list for any lab in the U.S.,” said SAEN Co-Founder Michael Budkie. "This is not science or anything close to it."
NBC 7 Investigates reached out to ProSci for their response to the Sheriff’s Department evaluation and the recent release of photos but have not heard back.
Dr. Yu Geng, ProSci’s President, previously said the Lab considers “humane animal treatment” a “top priority."
The organization also pointed out that its license has not been revoked, which confirms the problems aren’t that serious, it says.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is requesting that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) update current guidelines for producing antibodies.
In a letter to NIH, PETA said the guidelines rely on a 20-year-old policy which makes no mention of modern, animal-free methods of production.
Some academics and researchers who spoke with NBC 7 Investigates agree with those claims, stating researchers can create antibodies in a test tube and do not need to use the blood of animals.