SOUTH BEND — Researchers in a Notre Dame laboratory violated federal animal welfare policy last year after mice were found with missing limbs and one mouse was intentionally hit against a table, according to documents the university filed with a federal agency.

The documents — which include letters and reports from university research administrators to the federal Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare — were obtained and released to media outlets by the animal advocacy group Stop Animal Exploitation Now.

Notre Dame self-reported the violations to the federal agency and suspended the lab’s activities in late August 2019 due to “serious deviation” from animal treatment guidelines, the documents show.

In a letter to the OLAW dated Aug. 31, 2019, Robert Bernhard, Notre Dame’s vice president of research, detailed instances where the lab did not comply with federal guidelines.

On Aug. 9, 2019, veterinary staff at the Freimann Life Science Center found two mice in a lab had missing limbs and another two had their “bowels exteriorized” after surgery, with sutures and clips missing. Ten of the mice also had tumors larger than the approved protocol of two centimeters. All of the mice were euthanized after they “likely experienced unrelieved pain or distress,” according to Bernhard’s letter.
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