“Virginia Tech has been aware of the USDA concerns and has been working with them since the inspection to address the issues raised,” Mark Owczarski, associate vice president for university relations, said in a statement to The Virginia Mercury. “We are doing so with great diligence and care and we believe that all matters will be addressed.”
Owczarski said he did not have additional information on specific actions the university has taken to correct the violations.
Federal inspectors also found multiple problems with Virginia Tech’s animal housing. Seven sheep and five cow pastures do not provide any shade for the animals “by either natural or artificial means,” the report noted. In one pasture, sheep were standing in the thin shadow cast by an electrical line in an effort to find shade.
In another pasture, inspectors found an overweight dairy cow lying on its side. A veterinarian diagnosed the animal — part of the university’s veterinary teaching herd — with heat stress due to its weight and the outdoor temperature and humidity. Natural shade and trees were “available” to the animals, the report found, but located far away from the pasture.
Owczarski said Virginia Tech is “is committed to the highest standards of care for all teaching and research animals.” The university participates in an international accreditation program that assesses the humane treatment of animals in institutional settings.